Today I saw an alarming statistic posted on one of my favorite Facebook pages for pre-teens. It was concerning young girls and body image.
Image from Secret Keeper Girl
I have read these kinds of statistics before, and they should raise the hair on your neck for good reason.
Here are some more from Oxygen Magazine (March/April 2017)
*9.5 teaspoons is the amount of sugar per day the American Heart Association recommends (6 tsp for children over the age of two)
*20 teaspoons is the amount the average American consumes!
*$147 Billion is what the cost of obesity is in the US
* 66% of the adults in the US are classified as overweight or obese
* 33% of children and adolescents in the US considered to be overweight or obese
Does that wake you up a bit. Where is that conversation in the churches? Because I don’t hear it very often.
I am not saying that we should focus on weight. Both of the statistics that are provided are right. It should concern us as parents. And it needs to be addressed.
Young girls are affected from all sides in regards to their beauty, their weight, their appearance and so much more. And as you and I both know, as they get older, it will get worse. The messaging from the world is confusing.
But it doesn’t have to be. Not in your home. You can take control of this discussion and this topic.
As a Christian woman who is a momma to an athletic pre-teen girl, I am taking very seriously these types of conversations. I am not perfect by any means, but I don’t shy away from this issue. Her health is important to me. She has also shared that she wants to be a competitive Olympic swimmer. Whether that actually happens or not is not the issue. I must deal with the topic of her body image and her self care and health.
I never say in front of my kids that I am on a diet. I might share that I am trying something new to help my health, my body, or my physical performance, but I don’t say “mommy is fat and I need to go on a diet.”
I am not fat. Not even in the slightest. I have been unhealthy. I have been honest with Madi especially about my journey as a wife and momma and with my health.
I don’t want my daughter to be fearful of the body she has. God made her. I want to teach her how to care for it because it is shows stewardship of what God has given us.
I also do not shy away from saying what is not good for her (and Sean). I am their mother and I love them. I love the sugary treat once in awhile as much as anyone. But I am very clear that a treat or dessert or surgery snack is not acceptable for every day. I am okay with telling them no to something that I know won’t benefit them or keep them healthy. I am okay with being that mom.
But perhaps you are a mom who does need to lose weight. Perhaps the doctor has told you that you need to make changes because it is affecting your health.
Can I encourage you to not say diet in front of your kids? Can I encourage you to share with them (because they will notice that you are cooking differently and doing things differently) that you need to make healthy changes because you want to be around for them? Because you love them? And you love that God has created you and you want to honor Him?
If your whole family has to make healthy changes, pray first how to address it. How will you speak in your home so that your daughter doesn’t see it as a fat vs skinny issue, but a health and stewardship one. That has to start with you.
Your daughter will be fed many messages, especially if she attends public school or is active on social media or is away from you for any length of time. You can’t put the blame on them. It must start with the firm foundation you have set in your home. It won’t look perfect, and you will get some of this wrong.
In my house I try to say this:
“My body is a temple. Your body is a temple. God created it. How will I treat it?”
I think as parents, especially Christian ones, we are afraid to talk about weight or health because it seems frivolous and vain and not Kingdom worthy. But it is. Your daughter’s heart can be affected by this. So yes, it is Kingdom worthy. If you care for your daughter, you won’t shy away from having this type of conversation. Too many young girls are struggling because we have shied away from talking about it. We don’t want to damage or hurt their feelings or seem like we are obsessed with body image. This is deeper than skinny or fat.
Also, please note. For those whose daughters are now struggling with an eating disorder, it beyond self image, although that can trigger it. There are deeper issues going on at that point. Seek professional help and resources. Also, a great book to read would be by my friend Michelle Myers, The Look That Kills.
Stop being afraid and start talking Mama. She may roll her eyes or think you are being lame or uncool. I don’t care. I care about her soul and her heart and her walk with Jesus. I’ll be uncool any day of the week if it means I am training her to see truth and not fall victim to the lies the rest of the world throw at her. But I have full confidence that for the most part, she will value the time she gets with you and that you want to share with her and talk to her about tough topics.
A couple of great resources for you:
Raising Body Confident Daughters by Dannah Gresh
It’s Great To be a Girl! By Dannah Gresh and Suzy Welbel
These would be perfect books to pick up today at the library or from Amazon or even from Secret Keeper Girl!
Be encouraged, mama. This doesn’t have to be weird. Or yucky. Pray. Seek truth. Even seek guidance. And go talk to that precious princess God has given to you to love and care for.
Be a Size You,