Are we teaching our kids that thin is best no matter what?

It continues to happen. Many people still think it’s alright to comment on a person’s weight. They just don’t get it. When it comes to commenting about how thin a person is they don’t give a second thought as to who might be around.

After all, it’s a compliment – right?

Those same people might be a little discreet if they were chastising someone about gaining a few pounds but, on the other hand, they might not.

Enough is enough. It’s time to put a stop to this.

A recent article by a woman whose 12-year old daughter became ill with cancer brought this home once again.  The woman details  some of her stressful  journey through her daughter’s  hospitalization including the reasons why she couldn’t eat at various times.

But it’s her friends reactions that stunned her.

“‘I’m so jealous. You’ve lost so much weight, you look amazing,” a friend says to me. “I’d love to catch the stomach bug this year and lose a few pounds myself.”

She goes on to say,
“After I arrived at the hospital, a friend stopped by to visit. Before acknowledging Devon, she looked at me. With purrs of envy, she commented on how thin I looked. I was at a loss for words. My daughter was not.

“My mom is not skinny because she worked at it,” Devon told our visitor. “It’s because I’m sick.”

Even then, her friend doesn’t get it. She just waves off the daughter’s comment.

“But every time someone notices my weight loss with a tinge of envy, it makes me cringe.

Please, I want to tell them, do not admire how thin I have become since my daughter’s diagnosis – unless you are suggesting I look undernourished and want to give me a cupcake. My weight loss is not a goal you should aspire to, nor should it be confused with health and well-being. I was perfectly happy and fit in my precancer-kid size, and a little hurt to hear that this shrinkage that could cost me a lot more than new pants makes me more beautiful than ever.

But what is most painful for me is the collateral damage to my daughters. When they hear that Mom is enviably thin, they hear that this is a reward, a takeaway for the suffering. That thin is best no matter what.”

The author states,  “Do not covet her thinness. Admire her resilience, and tenacity, and sheer will to live.”

She ends with a profound statement:

“If you want to know how someone is, look in her eyes, because her size is not where the information is.”

Yes, enough is enough. But it seems that many people simply don’t get it. I don’t advocate that we come out swinging against those that are ignorant of the damage they may cause. But sometimes I think a well thought out strategy may help to stop a person from continuing this behaviour. I once advised  a young woman, who had put on some pounds and whose father-in-law would often weigh in on the matter, that she come out with a zinger that might embarrass him. I suggested saying, “ I hadn’t realized that you looked at my body so closely.”  It worked. He never mentioned her weight to her again.

Do you have any zingers to combat weight comments you would like to share? Please do so in the comment section below.

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Categories: Rosie's Rants, Weight Management

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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