The following was written by Barb, a friend of mine who I've known since high school. When I read it on her blog, I was shocked and saddened that someone (no matter how "well-meaning") would make a remark like this in front of a young girl, knowing the dangers of making such an insensitive comment. With it being common knowledge that eating disorders are starting at younger and younger ages as children try to emulate who they see in the movies and TV, it would seem obvious that making observations about the weight of young girls (especially in front of them!) is not appropriate, and can even be damaging to a young child's psyche. Some people might think I am overreacting to a little comment, but the truth is that the photographer's wife gave sweet little Sara something to think about that this smart, healthy, and pretty girl had never even considered before. This proves that it truly does matter what we say and how we treat people. Because she knows that I care about my young readers, Barb gave me permission to post it on my blog. I hope it makes us all think twice about what we say to young girls (and boys) about their weight. Sara is a great kid, and she is just right!
I took Sara to get her First Communion pictures taken last weekend. We were both very excited. Paul straightened her hair. She was wearing her baptismal necklace from Uncle Luis, new sparkly shoes and a big smile. When she changed into her dress and veil, the photographer's wife said "Wow, she is too skinny. Does she eat?"
Yes, my daughter eats, as most people can attest. She eats anything and everything from clam chowder to zucchini. She is 'blessed' with a high metabolism and boundless energy. Her record was 4 helpings of meatloaf in one sitting. In preschool she would eat lunch at school and then again at home. She has no qualms eating her food then zeroing in on the food of those around her. I don't think my father has eaten his entire meal in the last 7 years. Our friends are accustomed to her begging for food at their homes.
Her pediatrician is fine with her weight. She eats very well and takes vitamins. She is a normal healthy little girl who eats like a horse but burns through her energy. We are very careful not to make weight an issue in our house. She knows I enjoy excercising because I like to be healthy. I don't discuss dieting around her.
My daughter is 7 years old. We monitor what she watches and reads. I don't want her developing a complex about her body. We all know how women are portrayed in the media. We hear about girls developing eating disorders earlier and earlier. Later, Sara asked me if she is too skinny. (ironically, this conversation took place at Moe's, where she devoured her lunch) I explained that her body is just fine and the lady didn't mean anything by it. I'm sure she meant no harm but it planted a little seed of doubt in my daughter's head. Kids should be focused on school, friends and family. At 7 years old, they should not be worried about 'being too skinny'. I want my daughter to focus on being a good and happy child, not worry about being skinny or fat.
Sara is a bright, beautiful, caring, funny girl. She loves to read, swim, dance, cook, write and play. I want her to care about who she is on the inside. I want people to notice her for who she is, not what she looks like. To us, she is beautiful inside and out.