According to a 2012 study completed by the Public Health Agency of Canada only two thirds of young people in Canada with a healthy weight feel that their body is the right size, meaning one out of every three of our healthy Canadian youth believe that they are either too thin or too fat. And at every grade level, except for grade 6, more girls than boys are doing something to lose weight.
In a 2012 report released in the UK, girls as young as five claimed to be worried about their size and body appearance and are at risk of adopting their parents’ body related anxieties.
Why am I telling you this? This weekend a friend of mine, who is also a client, was taking a gondola up Whistler Mountain for a day of skiing and overheard two young girls chatting; she estimated they were under the age of 8. One of the girls asked the other if she had ever eaten at Fat Burger and her friend replied, “No. If you eat burgers you get fat”.
My client, who was appalled that this young girl was speaking this way interrupted and said, “Actually, it is ok to eat a burger once in a while, just not all the time”, and the little girl responded with “No, you get fat if you eat junk food.”
My question is: where do these young girls learn these habits? And at what age do we look at ourselves and say we are fat? Why is it that when a woman in Hollywood does not have a concave stomach that she is considered pregnant and if she is not, which most of the time is the case, we call her fat?
We have allowed the media to create this unrealistic “ideal body” and because of this we constantly judge ourselves and those around us -- our friends, our sisters and worst of all our daughters. We continually tell ourselves that because our thighs rub together when we walk we are not good enough and I know I am not the only one who has stood in front of a mirror and judged myself as I pinched the fat on my body.
Drew Barrymore was on Oprah the other day talking about her new life as a mother and one thing that I really admired was that she is refusing to do what most women in Hollywood do which is starve themselves after having a baby to get their pre-baby body back. She said it took 9 months for her to gain the weight and she is not going to put pressure on herself to lose the weight as it will come off in time. This is what we need to hear more of so those women who are 3 months post partum are not judging themselves because they still cannot zip up their jeans.
As a society, and as women, we need to set an example for those around us, especially the young girls in our homes and in our families. We need to stop allowing Hollywood to tell us how we should look and decide that on our own. We need to learn how to be comfortable in our own skin and love the person who lies beneath it. We need to teach the young girls in our lives to have a healthy body image. We need to teach the young girls that we eat well and exercise to be healthy, not skinny, and that it is ok to have a burger or junk food every once in a while.
It may be hard for us to stop judging ourselves, and I understand that, but if we eliminate expressing those negative comments about ourselves around young girls perhaps we can limit the effect that the media will have on them. In turn, they will grow into strong, confident and healthy women who love themselves for who they are and who do not judge themselves or others around them.
Attached -- Drew Barrymore in New York yesterday.