This is a sponsored post by Special K. The feelings and stories are all mine, though.
First, A Story
Once upon a time, about 1996 or so, I encouraged my daughter who was 10 years old at the time, to start a diary. We had already been doing a Mother/Daughter journal together that we shared and put on the bedside table of the other person when we were done with our writing about our feelings. The diary, I posited, was for her only. She didn't have to share her diary with me if she didn't want to and I thought that was a good way for her to get out feelings that she believed I wouldn't understand. One day, I picked up the diary by mistake thinking it was our shared journal and, since my eyes scan quickly and I read fast, I saw that she'd written a disturbing line: I'm fat.
That's ridiculous, I thought. She's perfect the way she is! She has a 10 year old body and plays several sports and takes dance lessons. Sure, she's going to be on the short side when it comes to height but she certainly couldn't blame any of that on me. I'm 5'10 and got to be this tall in junior high. If anything, she's got what I would have considered "baby fat" with full cheeks on her face and she's definitely inherited my thighs but she won't have the length of my legs.
Almost immediately following that accidental-diary-reading I took an inventory of the things I'd recently said to Mallory. Had I mentioned that she needed to lay off the cookies? Did I tell her that a pair of jeans were too tight and that we needed to go up a size and did that bother her? At first, I thought it was just about changing the dialogue in our home and making sure that I wasn't teasing her about being fat. No. That wasn't it.
At the time, I had bought some magazine subscriptions from some college kid (do they still do that door-to-door thing?) and we had several beauty and fashion magazines on the coffee tables throughout the house. Part of the blame went to that - articles about having thinner thighs and getting rid of belly fat and ridiculously altered photos of already thin models certainly didn't make her, or me, feel good about myself. Very recently I saw an ad that read "I CAN MAKE YOU THIN" in a newspaper. Thin? What does thin have to do with healthy?
Nothing. Thin and healthy are not mutually exclusive.
I used to be insecure about my looks, my body, and my hair. Getting rid of magazines in my home helped me not only have healthier conversations with my daughter, it helped me identfiy the dangerous messages thrust her way in her media consumption and feel better about myself in the process.
I can't blame all of the Fat Talk on magazines. I, too, have been guilty of engaging in Fat Talk. Every time I managed to say something negative about my body I started to catch myself and change it for both my daughter and myself. Instead of pessimistic and defeatist language, I started to embrace my body and use positive talk. Eventually, after years of doing that, I started to believe it. It amazes me that it took years and years to undo the damage I did to myself. All that Fat Talk I was doing trickled down to my daughter and hindered healthy weight management as well as her view of her body.
That's why I like the Special K campaign to shhhhut it down.
Stop doing that. Shut down the Fat Talk that we do to our daughters. I'm ready to give our girls more positive messages and see grown up women do this positively. We all know that Fat Talk is contagious and (wait for this amazing pun, y'all) it's weighing us down. When we make negative comments about our bodies or clothes (these are my "fat jeans") our daughters hear us and imitate us. Special K conducted a recent survey that showed them that 62% of women feel compelled to engage in Fat Talk about themselves when other women are doing that. Yet, 63% of them said that they didn't try to stop or change the conversation.
We have got to be more positive in the conversations we engage in about our bodies and our self-image.
Bonus: you may have missed this the first time around, but this post went viral and it gave me pause about the Fat Talk when it comes to taking pictures: So you're feeling too fat to be photographed by Teresa Porter.