• Author Stephanie Hart

How Parents Trigger Body Image Issues In Their Children

Too many parents implicitly and explicitly trigger body image issues in their children. This has made unhealthy parenting a great cause for concern. In 2016, What Would You Do aired an episode around a mother fat shaming her daughter—a sight that is unfortunately a common occurrence in America.

While body positivity and inclusivity have been taking social media by storm, parents still continue to let unrealistic societal beauty standards cloud their perception of beauty. The situation quickly escalates once they begin to project their toxic standards onto their children, resulting in snide comments and glances of disapproval.

A recent survey revealed that one in three kids admitted to feeling fat shamed by their parents. In addition, over 60% of young adults admitted to being told they were too fat by their parents before the age of ten.

Over time, body shaming leads to body image issues that worsen with time if left unaddressed.

We’ve rounded up three ways parents trigger physical and psychological issues in children that scar them for years to come.

Engendering Self-Consciousness in Children

While a glaring glance indicating a child should cut a thinner slice of cake or put the brownies away may seem harmless to many, it can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem.

Over time, jeers and looks of disapproval begin to make children feel self-conscious, thereby igniting the development of body image issues that surface as they continue to tackle the volatile circumstances.

Consciously and Subconsciously Igniting Feelings of Comparison

Comments on a child’s weight or eating habits begin to trigger feelings of comparison that worsen as they witness slim girls/young women being praised and adored on mainstream media.

In addition, parents may consciously or subconsciously compare their child to their siblings, thereby deepening the damage.

Children in their developmental stages quickly absorb and retain information and opinions. As a child is repeatedly told to “eat less” or “look more like skinny Molly,” they begin to perceive their bodies as unworthy, inadequate, and shameful.

Parents may also subtly encourage their children to only pick healthy food items because they’ll “prevent them from gaining weight.” When accompanied by the practice of restricting a child’s treats, this can cause long-term damage.

Reducing a Child’s Sense of Self-Worth and Triggering Eating and Body Disorders

Over time, triggering comments and looks diminish a child’s sense of self-worth. By getting exposed to repeated trauma in their own household, children—especially young girls—start developing eating and body disorders, including body dysmorphia, anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia, among many others.

A parent’s “well-meaning” comments induce long-term trauma that carries into young adulthood as the restrictive habits continue and worsen. As young adults, victims of body shaming may develop psychological issues—including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD—that inhibit their lives.

With the occurrence of eating and body disorders increasing, reaching out for help has become imperative.

If you’re struggling with body image issues, please reach out to the National Eating Disorders Association and the Office on Women’s Health. Each organization offers a helpline.

We also recommend connecting with people who have undergone similar circumstances to relate and cope with the overwhelming pressure. Stephanie Hart’s memoir—“Mirror Mirror: A Collection of Memoirs and Stories”—is a powerful, motivational, and moving tell-all that navigates her volatile relationship with a mother who would repeatedly body shame and belittle her as a child.

With a wide collection of memoirs and stories, Hart strives to empower, entertain, and move readers with her compelling body of work.

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