Friday, April 9, 2010

Musing on children.

Last night at dance, my soloists got done early so my mom and I were chatting with them for a few minutes. Somehow we got on the topic of young girls, like ages 8 or 9, thinking they are fat or ugly. We were all discussing who tells them they are fat? Who puts that idea in their head?

Kristen said something really profound that struck me. She said "I think we get that way because we hear people around us criticizing themselves. I know I'm hard on myself because I hear my mom being hard on herself." (Just for the record, both Kristen and her mom are beautiful, in shape, wonderful people who need to go a whole lot easier on themselves!)


I never thought about it like that before. It makes so much sense. My cousin, Kaari, is 9. She often says funny comments about her booty being big or her legs being fat. None are serious, the girl weighs 47 pounds and knows she super small. But she is always imitating my sister and I. For example, on Easter, we were all laughing with my sister because when she went to the driving range with my dad, she made him tell her if her shorts made her thighs look big. Quite funny and not your usual golf talk. Kaari has repeated this line several times, always in funny situations and never seriously, to me over the last week.

I wonder what effect that kind of statement would have had on Kaari if she was indeed a little larger. When we were all laughing about it, none of us were thinking about the impact it might have on Kaari. (She's the only girl kid in the family. Rory is too young to get it yet.) My family is incredible. We are accepting of each other but we also push each other towards fitness goals. We really aren't judgemental about weight or appearance, we just want everyone to be healthy. All families aren't like this though.

Could this be the root of the downturn in self esteem? One of the roots anyways? Take it outside the family. Women are constantly hearing stories about dramatic weight loss, body improvements, etc etc etc. What if things focused more on healthy living, not just being as small as you can be? Would my students then look at chips not as an escape from reality or an evil food, but as a nice treat once and a while? Would they not laugh at Angie when she brings three apples as her snacks instead of processed and packaged goodies? If healthy living was the focus, not dieting or losing weight, wouldn't it all go hand in hand?

I wonder.

I want to protect my students from the world. I know I do. It's a problem I have. I am way too over protective of my flock. I want to sheild them all from the rudeness and injustices other children throw at them. (Then again, I know my dancers are mean to kids at school too. No one's perfect.) I think next year we'll start some sort of healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy dancing program. Encourage little things like healthy snacks and water drinking, versus Chinese take out and Pepsi every night. Occassionally, sure, every way. My small part, I guess.

I'm off for the weekend. Gone to competition! Pray for safety for my girls and that the negativity that has been brought in to the studio lately can be pushed pushed pushed away this weekend! We all brings "gifts" and I want the girls to use theirs this weekend! (More on gifts in my next post...:))


Melissa said...

You are so right. And that is so true. I also see young girls making comments like that & it breaks my heart. I am overweight. I am actually obese. And i am working on the healthy living (NOT dieting) & know that doing that i will lose the weight, even if it's slow. But i was definitely constantly told i was fat (even before i was) growing up. And i was "encouraged" to work on that, but it wasn't encouraging at all. I know the kids i know that say things like this are not told they are fat. But i also know their mothers are constantly worried about their own weight (& they are healthy & not overweight at ALL!). It's a problem.

Your idea is awesome & you are awesome to care so much about your dancers. :) :)

Laura said...

You are definitely on to something Kate. I know that I try to be careful about what I say about myself in front of Liza because I know she will pick up an copy my ways and ideas.