My beautiful girl is 7 and the questioning of her body image has already started. I started having a few ‘I’ll skip tea Mum’, ‘I won’t have a biscuit, I’m on a diet’ from her. When I questioned her gently about it she said that she wanted to be skinner – seriously she’d disappear if that happened!. Trust me we are not a diet obsessed family, healthy eating and moderation are the order of the day here and I don’t think I have ever used the word ‘diet’ in front of her.
But this doesn’t seem to be isolated to just my daughter. I read on Frugal Family that her seven year old daughter was saying similar things, which she also dealt with in a very sensitive and sensible way. But I find it just terrifying, I don’t remember worrying about my body or what I looked like until I was well into my teens.
When I sat down with Miss L and discussed why she thought being skinny was good, she said she’d seen models and stars in photos both in magazine and online that were thin so it must be good. So much for me not buying fashion magazines – that didn’t work!
Thankfully Miss L has used photoshop on my laptop, so I explained that people don’t really look like that but are enhanced to look like it. Here’s a really good youtube video showing before & after shots of celebs to show how they have been changed for photos and how no one actually ever looks that perfect.
After we looked at this, we got a photo of me and I let her play with it and ‘photoshop’ it and she saw that the whole thing isn’t real. I see it as media education she now knows not to believe everything she sees in the media as being ‘true’ and ‘real’.
We’ve now made it into a game and if she sees a photoshopped picture now she shouts ‘fake’. She then has to explain what they could have changed on the photo – I rather like this game it’s actually quite fun. Since then I’ve stopped getting food refusals and she’s eating normally and healthily again 🙂 But it worries me that there are little girls out there worrying about their looks having such an unrealistic set of expectations at such a tender age.
Have you had the same problem or come across this with your children?