I’m just gonna throw this meme out here without a blog post (without much of one, anyway) — partially because I’m working on something else and partly because I’m hoping for lots of comments!
Today’s blog rolls — social media, too — are urgently pushing body positivity. And, look — I get it. My mom called me “fat” for the first time when I was twelve. And, yes, I still feel (am) fat today. I’ ve never had a great body image. So I know how much harm those comments can inflict on teen girls who wake up one morning and discover that the fat that was on their stomach has now shifted to their boobs but they’re afraid it won’t stay there…well, you know where I’m going with this.
So I don’t want to make light of how deeply hurtful fat shaming can be, or of how important it is to focus on body positivity.
It only becomes problematic when we start thinking it’s OK to lie to the people we love. Or when we convince ourselves that the ideal world we imagine, where everyone is seen for who they really are, actually exists in the halls of our local middle and high schools.
Is it possible that the lies we tell (because, yes, weight *does* matter, no matter how fiercely we insist it shouldn’t) are more harmful than the truth?
What about the daughter who’s been overweight her whole life but has been assured by her family that she’s beautiful and perfect just the way she is…and then, on her first day of high school, she runs smack into the Queen of the Mean Girls? All that body positivity stuff goes out the window, and now she thinks you lied to her, too.
The unintended darkside to the body positivity movement
I understand the sentiment. I really do. We all want what’s best for our kids. But I can’t stop wondering what will happen when reality smacks them in the face, whether it’s a run-in with a Mean Girl or a football coach who tells them they’re really not that good, no matter what their dad and Little League coach said. .
Is it really “best” to pretend that they’ll be entering an ideal world where everyone will love them just for who they are?
Personally, I think the best answer is to share some hard facts of life in a gentle way, and then give our kids the tools for overcoming any obstacles they may face. And to be ready to catch them if they fall, of course. Which is kind of hard to do if they think you’ve been lying to them the whole time.
But that’s just me.
This came of as a bit more of a rant than I intended it to, but it pushes my buttons. I’m all for working toward that ideal world, but I call a halt when it comes to acting as if it already exists. I think we let our kids down when we don’t prepare them for reality, but I know a lot of people disagree, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
I’m going to end with my favorite parenting meme, which I think does a lot to explain my stance on this issue:
What do you think? Should we tell our kids the hard truths? Why or why not?