I recently wrote a post about negative body comments and things you can’t say in front of my daughter.
In crafting that post, I asked my community of Burlington VT Moms Blog writers for their input on body comments and phrases they find particularly objectionable, especially when spoken in front of our children. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who felt passionately about this topic! In this follow-up post, I have done my best to categorize and summarize the thoughts of our community of writers and moms on this subject. We love words, but there are a lot of categories of body comments we would like to keep away from our kids.
Diet or Dieting
“We don’t talk about diets or dieting. It’s not us; it’s the grandmas who have this issue. Both grandmas talk about themselves being, ‘Fat’ and hating their big bellies and arms. No matter how many times I talk to them about it, they don’t get it.”
DIET. No one is allowed to discuss being on a diet in front of my girls.
“I grew up with my dad always making fun of my mom’s, ‘Saddlebags.’ Even if it was a joke, she was always on a diet – ordering a salad on pizza night, etc. It really affected how I perceived women should eat, like we should always be conscious of our weight.”
“Body image is one that hits us hard all the time. Our main focus is to talk about differences and to love everyone for whoever and whatever they are. We also put a strong emphasis on health. We may use the word, ‘Diet,’ but it’s in the context of, ‘Taking out too much sugar from our diet.’ We emphasize that people come in all shapes and sizes, but what’s most important is to be healthy, eat well, and get exercise. Our body can look any way, but as long as we live a healthy life, we’re doing our best.”“I think another thing to add is seeing food as ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’. My mother-in-law will say in front of my children that she can’t have the dessert that they are having because she is too fat for it. I had to awkwardly ask her not to say that in front of my children. I want my kids to understand that food is what we use to give our body energy, and there is no such thing as bad food or food that you can’t have based on your size. One of the most important parts of life is enjoying special meals with the ones you love, regardless of the calorie content.”
“I don’t have a girl, but we avoid the word, ‘Fat’ in our house. It just sounds rude and is no way to describe a person or a body!”
“My daughter got really worried one day about how much sugar she was eating because a teacher at school told her that sugar would make her fat.”
“I read that the New York State Assembly and Senate have both passed a bill that will be delivered to Governor Cuomo. Apparently, if signed into law, it authorizes schools in New York state to do obesity screenings and to take some course of action to ‘Help’ these kids and families. I can understand if you want to provide families with healthier food options they may not be able to afford, but they should provide that based on need, not BMI, in my opinion. The fact that they are telling students they’re obese or their parents that their children are obese is scary to me for all those children who already have confidence issues. As a parent, I would never want this to happen in a school. This stuff is between family doctors and parents.”
Everyone comments on how skinny my daughter is. She’s even had kids in her class say she’s, ‘Too skinny,’ and it hurts her feelings.
“My parents tell me my kid isn’t eating enough.”
“My mom always used to say how much she hated skinny people – and I had an eating disorder. Not helpful!”
“Due to our boys using size as a put down (our youngest is bigger than his older brother and they fight badly about it), there is no using size words as a put down allowed, so no saying ‘Fat,’ ‘Skinny,’ ‘Tall,’ or ‘Short’ in a negative way.”
“We avoid saying anything about size. We have several nieces and are careful to set a good example when it comes to body image and language choices. One of my nieces has already come to me with concerns about her body, and I try to use those opportunities as teaching moments. Our son is still a baby, but so many people comment on how big/small he is. I’m not sure why so many feel the need to judge our baby on his size.”
“Don’t tell my daughter she can’t wear leggings or anything else she wants.”
“The word, ‘Sexy’ comes to mind. Now, I love my workout videos, but I have them pretty much memorized because the word, ‘Sexy’ (arms/legs/abs/shoulders) is used from time to time. There are definitely times my kids are working out with me, and I think not only are they too young to understand/use the word, but I don’t want them thinking their bodies have to be ‘Sexy’ ever or what society defines as ‘Sexy.’ When I know it’s coming, I start talking to them over my video about something else. Thankfully, I haven’t heard the word out of either of my children’s mouths (yet). It’s amazing what you don’t think about until you hear it in front of your kids, even when it’s not you who’s saying it.”
I hate when people say my daughter will be a ‘Heartbreaker.’ I mean, yes, she’s adorable, but don’t make judgments on my kid’s future love life based on her appearance! She’ll think that’s what matters!
“Same goes for asking little kids, ‘Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?’ That’s creepy. I’m sure some people think it’s harmless, but it’s not.”
“A big no-no for us is the word, ‘Ugly.’ That’s time-out material in our house!”
“We definitely avoid the word, ‘Ugly.'”
Names for Body Parts
“In our home, we only call our body parts what they are – breasts, bum, vagina, and penis. I feel like the slang terms are often used in a negative way or to judge a girl’s (or boy’s) body.”
We do not comment on anyone else’s body, ‘Positive’ or ‘Negative.’ We have no opinion on other people’s bodies and refuse them the right to have an opinion on ours.
“I struggle when the kids poke my belly. I have to remind myself not to say negative things like, ‘Don’t touch my fat belly.’ I try to just say, ‘Oh, you got my stomach,’ and move on.”
“My mom ripped apart her appearance (and sometimes others) daily in front of me growing up. It took a long time for me to unlearn all of that. I’m still learning, in fact…”
“Some people assume my 2.5-year-old, ‘Doesn’t get it,’ and they can say whatever they want in front of her because she’s young. She actually takes everything in, and sometimes repeats things. She already hears a lot about her appearance. Strangers and family alike will say things like, ‘Oh, look at your beautiful hair!’ or, ‘Oh, you’re tall aren’t you?’ She immediately gets a quizzical look, and I can tell she’s starting to internalize these kinds of statements. At home, my husband and I try to keep discussions about body or appearance boring and factual, or better yet, nonexistent. Essentially, the goal is for her to assume/understand that all bodies are normal, no matter what they look like. It’s already hard, and I know it’s only going to get harder.”
“I have a son and still feel that it’s important to teach him that people come in all shapes and sizes and to fight the perception of what it means to be ‘Beautiful’.”
“I was talking to a friend about this yesterday at the beach, too. She said that sometimes she feels the need to give her daughter a daily pep talk in the mirror, ‘We are strong! We are beautiful!’ Her daughter noticed a lot of her little friends are really concerned about how much they are eating or what they are wearing, and it’s coming up at home.”