Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weighing on my mind

This is my oldest child, Olivia...

 Don't let the sweet look fool you...

Ah, yes... that's more like it

Olivia is 6.  She's very smart, very imaginative, fiesty, and (sometimes overly-)affectionate.  I love her with all my heart and soul.  But I'm worried.  I'm afraid that in that pretty little head lurks something really ugly.  I'm afraid that she's developing an eating disorder of some kind or another.

As you can see, she's healthy.  Not in a "my kid is plump, so I'm calling them 'healthy'" kind of way, she's really a healthy weight.  But she thinks losing weight is the best thing ever.

It started a few months ago when she was sick with pneumonia.  She didn't eat for a couple of days and she lost enough weight that it was visible on her.  It was only 1 or 2 pounds, but on a kiddo like her, it shows.  I was helping her get dressed one day when she started feeling better and mentioned that she had lost weight.  She went to dancing around the room, singing "I lost weight!  I lost weight!"

My jaw hit the floor.  I was horrified.  I had meant it in a negative way.  In no way was I like "Yay!  You lost weight!"  I meant it in a "you are way too skinny" kind of way.  But she was celebrating.

I gathered my wits and sat down to have a talk with her.  I deduced that a big influence on her actions was something I had never thought of as a negative influence.... weight loss product commercials.   I never thought that if she watched a Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig commercial that she would get it in her head that, no matter what, losing weight was fantastic.  I told her that losing weight if you were overweight was good, but that it was not always needed or wanted.  She doesn't need to lose weight.  It's not good for her to lose weight right now.

We're very careful about the channels the TV is on and the commercials they show if she's going to be around.  I really never in a million years thought about parental guidance for commercials...

She's mentioned it a few times here and there in the meantime and I try very hard to make sure if I'm going to talk about ME losing weight that around her I make sure to call it "getting healthy."  

The past few days, she has seemed to be preoccupied with MY weight.  I know a lot of people have gotten that slap in the face from their young child when they notice and mention their weight.  And I knew it was only time before I got my dose of that medicine.  But, boy, does it hurt.  Not only that, but you feel guilty.  And I'm just conflicted...  how do I go about losing weight without sending her the message that losing weight is good?  I know I have to focus on the healthy aspect of it all, but I'm just worried about reinforcing an anti-fat image in her.

Today she had a Daddy-date.  When they got home, he said he thinks we might have a problem on our hands.  If HE noticed it, then I know I'm not just being a worry-wort mommy.  He also said she said something "very insulting" about me, but he wouldn't tell me what it is and she was too embarrassed to repeat it.  I don't think I'm being overly-sensitive to think that it was related to my weight.

I'm feeling really awful about it tonight and I'm trying to turn it around and make it motivation to #1 - make healthy changes around here to teach her about nutrition and body image and #2 - lose weight myself.  I just feel like I'm facing a huge mountain and I'm having a hard time deciding how to climb it.  I will though... I have to.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing jennifer. i can imagine the emotions involved in this process. what important changes you will be making. just remember to start small and focus on it, not the big picture. don't get overwhelmed. i am excited for you!



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