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Women for Women .. “I think we are all guilty of saying “I look fat in this” in front of children”

by Will Corry on May 2, 2012 in Lead story, London & South East, Marketing, Retail News

Just an average girl writes Something that has only really occurred to me recently is the effect that all this weight loss and image talk has had on the young adults and children of the world.

I think we are all guilty of saying “I look fat in this” in front of children not giving it a second thought that they may absorb and copy our behaviour.
Just recently my 12 year old cousin commented on a number of occasions that she was “fat”, not only is she far from fat but she is the perfect size for her age, height and of course she is very beautiful. The fact she thinks she is fat disturbed me and got me really thinking about how much some of us do not realise the impact we have on the young.
I am 100% certain that my younger cousin has repeatedly heard me rabbit on about my weight on at least 150 occasions, she is also influenced by magazines, TV and the girls at her school. Most girls her age are watching “The Only Way is Essex” which is almost like a UK version of “Jersey Shore” whereby the girls are very image conscious and obsessed with their body shapes and sizes. I hold my hands up and confess I was very guilty of these conversations and have realised that this ‘innocent’ talk is actually damaging.

Children and young adults do not fully understand “airbrushing”, they are not all fully aware that in real life not all these models and celebrities look like they do in photoshoots, young adults are comparing themselves to something that does not even exist!

Do you think if we never mentioned weight loss or weight related issues in front of the young but instead talked about the importance of healthy eating to benefit the inside and outside of our bodies it would make a difference to how they feel about themselves?
We protect our children from so many things when they are young like swearing, horror films and violence but why don’t we do more to protect them from destroying themselves emotionally? Why do we not invest more time in our children’s mental and emotional well-being so they have a wonderful well-balanced self confidence?
What if we encouraged our children to see the best parts of people rather than someones imperfections, would this make them see a person for their personality rather than because they have a funny lip or limp?

The competition to look amazing is simply overwhelming and it starts so young, you must have all seen these TV programmes with girls as young as 5 wearing a full face of make-up, heels, bras and short skirts – WHY? Because they have seen women on TV wearing them in music videos etc.

Every single one of us is a role model and it really angers me to see people give no consideration those young around them. Those who smoke in the presence of a child, give their children fried chicken and chips every night because they cant be bothered to cook something healthy and different, even a tuna pasta dish with frozen peas is better and cheaper – so money is no excuse!
Those who let their 6 year old watch Babe Station, cover their face in make-up to go to school or let them watch explicit music videos with women wearing less than I floss my teeth with!
Just so you know, I am no angel or prude, I grew up on a council estate, am the daughter of an alcoholic, had a colourful past with men & relationships and are the victim of a weight obsessed society but that is exactly what makes me feel so strongly about it because it just simply does not have to be that way!
Where does this leave us in the future?
The obesity rate in children is growing rapidly, bulling in schools is getting worse and the age children are initiating sex or sexual activities is getting younger, I am totally convinced that there is a link with these issues, low self esteem and a lack of self respect which has been inherited by the behaviour of the adult world.
I truly believe it would take years to undo the damage that our society has done to itself but its not irreversible, as a mother I take full responsibility of making a huge effort to make sure my son grows up to have:
an understanding of healthy eating
an appreciation of imperfections (as NOBODY is PERFECT)
the ability to look past the exterior
the art of “everything in moderation”
and most importantly self respect
Now I may fail completely, fall flat on my face and my son ends up 19 stone at aged 12, smoking cigars and jumping 13 year old girls, but I will never give up trying to guide him the right way than do nothing at all?
In my opinion it is NEVER too late to try and change any behaviours, you could be aged 5, 8, 12, 16, 30, 45, 65 or 90, we all have the choice, opportunity and power to start fresh every single day. If we complimented our children when they have achieved something or just when they simply look “nice”, you would not believe the amount of parents who do not EVER compliment their children.
If you don’t know how, ASK. Don’t you think asking a health visitor advice on children’s meals is better than seeing your 10 year old son obese at 15 stone and struggling to walk up a step? Does it not take less energy to read a book about self confidence than find out that your 14 daughter is having sex with boys who tell her she is beautiful so they can sleep with her? I know this sounds a little far fetched but actually it is not! It is happening all over the world every day.

Women for Women is an exciting new venture for theMarketingblog. If you want to share a comment about this first special story or send us one of your own articles use the comment box below.  Martina Quinn, Women for Women Editor

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