I let this article go without blogging about it but since then, I have gotten lots of emails about it (thank you to everyone who is thinking of me!). So, I figured what the heck! Before I get to the article, I want to give you some statistics for perspective:
- 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets – Gustafson-Larson, A.M., & Terry, R.D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 818-822.
- 42% of 1st – 3rd grade girls want to be thinner
- 51% of 9-10 year old girls feel better about themselves when they are dieting
- 9% of 9 year olds have vomited to lose weight
- 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their body
- 78% of 18 year old girls are unhappy with their body
- The #1 wish of girls 11-17 years old is to lose weight – Maine, M. (2000) Body Wars: Making Peace with Women’s Bodies. Carlsbad, CA: Gurze Books.
- 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat – Dove Self Esteem Fund Initiative
- 67% of women 15-64 withdraw from life-engaging activities, like giving an opinion and going to the doctor, because they feel badly about their looks – Dove Self Esteem Fund Initiative
- 45% of boys are unhappy with their bodies
- Nearly 1/3 of teenage boys engage in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors to control the weight and the size of their body, such as skipping meals, refusing to eat, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. – Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat! New York: Guilford.
We need to recognize our children as unique individuals beyond their appearance. What precisely? Intelligence, interests, abilities, intentions, thoughtfulness, etc. I want to challenge you, and us all, to begin to shift the ways in which we address our children, both girls AND boys, and to show them that they are more than their appearance. OH! and don’t forget to actively listen to what they have to say! Let them feel heard and let them know that what they have to say and share really matters to you.