November 1, 2018 Felicia Durling

Body Shaming Mistakes Parents Make All The Time

Stigmatizing the “F” Word

We are in a revolutionary age of body positivity and body acceptance. There is an entire movement fueling the wide acceptance and use of the word “fat”. Even though society is working toward embracing it, by continuing to name it, we continue to isolate it. Meaning, that stigmatizing “fat” is inherently shaming. If you teach children that “fat” is “bad” and that diets should be consumed in order to avoiding getting “fat”, you’re programming shame. Additionally, you’re stigmatizing any body appearance that could be perceived as “fat”.

Shaming Other Body Types

We don’t always shame other body types directly. Criticizing another’s appearance can be as subtle as commenting on someone’s attire or as blatant as calling someone ugly. For example, the “red carpet” segment of reward shows is meticulously criticized. Who wore what “the best” and “the worst”. Raising our children in this binary evaluation system inhibits their ability to be non-judgmental. More importantly, it limits and negates what we teach them about God’s creativity and how each person is uniquely made in His image.

Rewarding Gender Role Fulfillment

Perpetuating gender roles can create insecurity in gender fluidity. Rewarding a girl for acting like a “lady” or a boy for acting like a “gentlemen” is more discouraging than not. A girl who is more like a “tomboy” might experience shame, guilt, or fear, for acting more like a “boy”. A girl acting like a boy or vice versa goes without reward, though not necessarily blatantly shamed. Gender identity is not an external display but an internal and intimate process. When we indirectly shame our children’s gender identity we complicate their relationship with themselves.

Engaging in Personal Body Critique

Most of us do it. We stand in front of a mirror and look for all of our flaws. It takes time and practice to look in the mirror and not notice anything wrong. This challenge is exhausted when we are raised by parents who regularly and expressively critique their own bodies. Many studies have investigated how Mother’s criticizing their bodies affect their daughters’ body image. The results have found a negative relationship. If you want your child to love and embrace themselves fully, you have to do the same.

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