Body Image: No Name Calling

Tracee Sioux says:

I know lots of parents, including myself, who have found it effective to make some rules when children are still very young to ensure a healthy self-image, including body image.

Most good parents forbid namecalling of siblings or friends.

I think it’s a great idea to make the same rule against namecalling yourself.

I discipline my children for saying “I’m stupid” and “My legs are fat” the same as I would if they said, “You are stupid,” or “Her legs are fat.”

The more children learn to respect, accept, and appreciate their bodies and skills or, the less they learn to self-deprecate.

Respect, acceptance and appreciation don’t lead to anorexia, self-mutilation or other self-destructive behaviors.

Self-deprecation has been shown to lead to self-destructive behavior, depression, low self-worth, drug use, and suicide.

Children learn from Do As I Do , a lot more than Do As I Say. Obviously mothers (and fathers) who see things this way will have to forgo self-deprecation as a form of humor. Mothers will lose some opportunities to bond with other women.

Naomi Wolf said, “The mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”

A woman cannot stand in front of the mirror annihilating her body and her reflection and expect
her children to have positive self-esteem. That’s just not likely to happen.

My daughter holds me to this standard. I’ve spoken with her about my own accountability in this area. If I cut loose with an, “I am so stupid!” she will call me on it and has actually sent me to “time out.”

I went to time out when she sent me there, because I want her to know that what I did by calling myself a name was very, very wrong. If I refuse to live up to the standard I set for her then essentially, the message is that it’s “not really that important.”

The statistics about teenage girls tell us that:
13% of girls are depressed,
10 million women have an eating disorder,
81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat,
42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner

so much of this because most girls never learn to be kind to themselves, I know I must vigilantly teach my daughter how to take care of her emotional self and accept and appreciate her body from a very early age.

More on Body Image from Tracee Sioux at Empowering
Girls: So Sioux Me
. [Tracee will be on the BlogHer panel with Laurie in July.]

4 thoughts on “Body Image: No Name Calling

  1. Thanks for the link Laurie.

    Serene, her legs are completely “normal” and this is a case of self-deprecation.

    Girls & women have developed a nasty habit of self-deprecation and the cost is real self esteem. If you keep saying, My legs are fat, they will only get fatter and you’ll never be happy with them.

    I don’t believe it’s authentic self expression. I think we’re doing it for social reasons and humor, but it’s results are devastating on women’s and girl’s body issues.

    I would not allow self-deprecation even if her legs were fat – just as I don’t allow her to call the girl down the street “fat” even though she’s got weight issues.

    It’s mean. Mean if she does it to the neighbor and mean if she does it to herself.

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.