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As a father of a daughter, albeit one that is currently a toddler, I'm discovering that raising a girl with a healthy self image in a time where it's not uncommon to find females placed upon a media constructed pedestal for being thin and provocative to be quite the challenge. While she hasn't yet illustrated any specific behaviors that would warrant concern, she has made it clear that she's acutely aware of her surroundings.

The other day, my wife and I were having a conversation regarding a previous meal where we regretfully overindulged and mumbled nonsense of feeling fat and bloated when the two year old we didn't realize was listening interrupted us with a question of her own...

Am I fat?

Immediately, we agreed to remove the F-word from our vocabulary. It's easy to forget life's biggest lessons are found in the smallest of moments. The words we choose as parents, and often the louder voice of our actions, build the foundation of adulthood for our children. We have to be more aware of how our choices affect them. We have to make more of an effort to build confidence, to enforce that beauty comes in all sizes and that size zero doesn't necessarily equate health. We have to start with ourselves.

The days numbered February 23 - March 1, 2014 have been declared National Eating Disorder Awareness Week; I wrote the following poem sitting in a college course, when I was 18, surrounded by whispered conversations of meal regrets and plans of self starvation.


hunger pains, coughed up bloody stains
avoided eating today
magazine wishes, pounds drop away
reflection blocked, insecurities in the way
mouth, corners down, frowns
flaw formed barricade
silent screams try to say
I want to be perfect today.

clear skin without tear stains
flat stomach no chest pains
convincing smiles within platinum frames
a single day without blame
hopeful wishes of a household name
flaw formed barricade
silent screams silently say
why am I not perfect today?

But we are. Today we're perfect in our imperfections. As soon as we realize this, so will our children.

--
original image source

2 comments

  1. Wow, she said that at 2? That's incredible. Goes to show that little ears are listening, and little eyes watching, us all the time. Good lesson to strip the "f" word from our vocab.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! It was one of those "crap, I failed at parenting" moments. They really are listening to everything... lesson learned. Now if we slip up and say it or she hears someone else say it she replies with "no, don't say that" so hopefully our immediate (and probably overdramatic) reaction scared that word away.

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