As someone who has been there - it can’t be understated how much this kind of subtle messaging influences a child’s mental well-being, self trust and relationship to their body and nourishment.
Anecdotally I would say it’s far far more impactful than the broad sweeps “societal messaging” we are already swimming in because the parent-child relationship is one like no other psychologically.
This is a person who will go on to swap controlling and fixating weight to doing so for money, or relationships, or academic success (name your marker) to feel safe unless there is some very deep work and undoing that happens. Just my POV.
Wow, this is a very serious issue. I grew up with a critical father and definitely suffered from body dysmorphia almost my entire life. Add to it our cultures fixation on body image, especially for women, and it’s a really toxic mental health struggle. I feel for this child, he seems really obsessed, which is never, ever good. From a very early age, we need to see our bodies as intelligent entities, partners and best friends in our journey through life. If we can cultivate a positive, loving relationship with our bodies, where shame has no place, we can take care of ourselves in a way that promotes a deep appreciation, which automatically makes us want to care for our bodies. And parents need to model this themselves if they want their kids to have a healthy attitude about their bodies. I know I have sent mixed messages to my children and we have discussed it as adults. Fortunately, I think they have taken the good and recognized the harm, so they will not perpetuate it themselves going forward.
Well said! It strikes me how Michael as a dad also reflects upon his own attitude towards body image in an effort to explain what is happening. Many people and even cultural phenomena could’ve been the role models that helped stimulate an unhealthy behavior. Confronting that openly sounds wise.
Thanks Thor. Addressing elephants in the room has always been my style. I truly dislike having unresolved issues. It so affects my overall energy. Constructive communication is paramount in any relationship. A skill so worth learning and practicing. Life is much easier that way.
I hope they find a way through and out this (I suppose) mostly mental challenge!
Full disclosure: I'm friends with the writer.
Fuller disclosure: It's a great little story about his kids and body image. :)