Should You Tell a Girl She’s Fat?
Should you tell someone that they’re fat, or should you mind your own business? It’s a difficult question and body image expert Dr Robyn Silverman has the answer: A resounding NO!
Dr Robyn says she’s never met a girl who doesn’t know that she’s “overweight”, or doesn’t feel like she’s overweight.
And telling a girl (or woman) what your opinion of her weight is, is likely to make her feel less confident, less resourceful, less powerful.
If the girl is someone you care about, is that what you want for her?
Dr Robyn’s new book is Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.
She says we’re at crisis point with body image now, with the vast majority of girls and women wanting to change something about their bodies, and 17 million people in the US alone suffering from diagnosed eating disorders.
What influences this negative body image epidemic?
The easy answer is “the media”, and it’s an accurate one.
Dr Robyn says though that because parents are the first and most trusted source of information, parents have more clout in the long term than does the media.
Yes, she said parents, because while most information on body image focusses on how a mother’s negative body image can set up her daughter for more of the same, the influence of the father is overlooked but should never be underestimated.
Fathers Have A Massive Influence on Negative Body Image
“Fathers are the first man in their daughter’s life, he’s like the blueprint for all other men,” she said.
When the father controls his daughter’s food, comments negatively about her body, or about other women’s bodies, he sets up his daughter to believe that’s how men think and she begins to believe there is something wrong with her body.
This is particularly a problem when a girl hits her teens because dads often leave delicate discussions to mothers, believing the conversations are too difficult and out of their male experience.
Instead, says Dr Robyn, dads would do great service to their daughters by finding a way to have the difficult conversations anyway and teach them the distortions in the messages they’re being given about men.
We also talked about mothers and what they can do if their own body feelings have negatively influenced their daughters, how we women relate to one another through the language of diet and how we can shift the conversation, how girls can see themselves as Asset Girls instead of only “hot”, how our thin-hot focus affects boys and future relationships, what information and knowledge our girls need more than advice on how to be thin, and much much more!
This was a content-packed conversation, well worth listening in to.
The Body Image Revolution is an international telesummit bringing together body image experts from around the world to share their wisdom and experience, help women around the world find peace with their own bodies, and bring about a powerful peaceful revolution – one woman at a time.
This article is part of the Body Fat: Good, Bad or Ugly? series, click here to read more.