Spring has finally sprung here in Denver! After several weeks of frigid temperatures and snow, we are melting and the crocuses are poking their sweet heads out of the dirt.
Along with warmer weather comes increased sunlight and a desire to be outside, and with that can come more focused attention on body image. Your friends may be sporting shorts, planning for spring break, shopping for tank tops, and talking about their bodies as we come out from ‘winter hibernation’.
Does this bring up any insecurity for you?
If you have a friend, daughter, son, mother, or loved one who looks at themselves in the mirror, grimaces, pokes their belly, and then mutters “I feel SO fat!!”, then this post is for you.
Five Things to Say to Your Daughter (or son, or loved one) When She/He Tells You She Feels Fat
1.) Fat is not a feeling. Facebook recently removed the “feeling fat” emoticon from their status bar because fat is NOT a feeling and proposing that it is a feeling further adheres to the thin ideal and shaming anyone who has fat on their body. It also can be triggering to those who have eating disorders or body image struggles. Fat is not a feeling — what are you REALLY feeling?
2.) Talk to her about normal things that bodies do, look like, and feel like. Everyone has a different body and whatever the number on the scale says, our bodies are amazing and deserving of respect. Talk with her about what your body went through as you were growing up, normalize some of the uncomfortable things that can occur (i.e.: puberty), and discuss this in an affirming, accepting and empowering way.
3.) Discuss the ‘thin ideal’ and how thinness is glorified in our culture. Explore the effect that the media and society have had on her and on others and what message that sends. Fat is stigmatized in our culture and many people fear being judged, bullied, rejected, or hurt by not fitting into the thin ideal.
Help her get educated and stand up for herself amidst the immense cultural pressure to look a certain way.
4.) Find out what is going on in her life. Chances are, if she is obsessing about
body image, weight, or food, there are other factors affecting her stress level and wellbeing. How are her relationships? How does she feel about school? Is she pushing herself too hard? Does she compare herself with her best friend? Explore the deeper meaning to “fat” and what it is truly trying to express.
5.) Dance. Invite your daughter or loved one to put on a favorite song and to check your judgments at the door. Dance with her and invite yourselves to feel the miraculous, fun, strong things that your body can do for you, and does for you each day. Carve out time each day to focus on what your body DOES, instead of how it looks.
Warmer weather invites the birth of spring, which in turn offers an opportunity for rebirth, renewal, and release. Ask your loved one and yourself: What would you like to release this spring that is not serving you? How can your body help you do it?