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Our Words Shape Our Children

I remember when Erin and Jenn made the decision to grow their fit bottomed families and create this space for mamas of babies. Some of you remember it was first called Fit Bottomed Babies, but they quickly realized they wanted to distance themselves from the idea that babies needed to get in shape. Sounds like common sense would have prevented people from going there, but I have a daughter now and know all too well people go there all the time.

The idea of body-shaming children sounds ridiculous and rare, but unfortunately it’s happening more often than not and some of us don’t even know we’re guilty. I was scrolling through The Moms Network Instagram memes and saw this
powerful and visceral image by Meg Gaiger/Harpyimages that I can’t seem to shake.

Seriously I teared up and my throat started to burn. We DO need to remind ourselves not to discuss our body issues in front of our children. We DO need to be careful of our choice of words and language. Maya Angelou wisely schooled us all when she said, “Words are things … Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.” There’s so much power there …

I remember being a child and loving being a fly on my mama’s wall. She’d sit and gab with her girlfriends about her latest workout or diet she was trying and I remember how I processed those conversations: I so desperately wanted to be overweight so that I could diet with her; be one of the girls.

We have to remember we hold power in our children’s formative years. I remember just a year ago sitting down with four young girls whose mothers participated in my husband’s boot camps. I was so excited to see them going for his gym equipment and getting in on the action, but when I approached, I could hear them talking about how they just needed to lose a couple pounds and my heart sank. They were no older than seven. I made sure to tell them that strength is a great reason for working out and how the world needs to see all of our bodies moving in great ways.

I’m afraid the conversation is starting earlier and earlier, too. I’m vigilant about changing the dialogue my daughter hears, but I’ve found this is going to be a super tough uphill battle. I can’t tell you how many people discussed my 10-month-old daughter’s weight: “Oh, she’s crawling now — she’ll lean out soon.”

Think I’m lying? Three different people commented about her weight just last week. So I ask: Why are we discussing a baby’s weight?! I’m working on my response. I usually say I’m cool with her cute little plumpy self, but that’s not even healthy because it’s STILL addressing her weight. It’s still talking about her body, which makes me feel squidgy and weird.

I’m taking up the challenge to be mindful of the words I choose to speak and also be positive and optimistic that we can and will make a difference if we start voicing the love and ditching the dirt. I’d love to hear if this is a concern for other moms. It’s time to change the conversation and help our sons and daughters. Our words shape our children. –Tish

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2 Comments
  1. meg gaiger says:

    Hello there 🙂
    Could I ask the image of the child with scissors is correctly credited to myself Meg Gaiger/Harpyimages please.
    I tend not to mind when it is shared for body positive reasons but do ask it be credited when I find it without.
    thank you
    Meg Gaiger 🙂

    1. Jenn says:

      You bet! Adding now. 🙂