Body shaming of plus size kids is hurtful. Whether the shaming comes from name calling, social media, television commercials or insensitive adults, fat shaming can cause depression and keep them from growing up confident in their bodies.
Body Shaming of Plus Size Kids Is More Than Name Calling
Body shaming is more than just calling someone “fat” or “chubby.” It is anything that tries to make someone feel bad about their body. It can be said directly to the child or the child could overhear it being said about someone else. For example:
- Linking beauty to body size – Uncle Larry telling his niece at a family dinner that she would be “prettier if she went on a diet.”
- Linking body size to failure – Parents reading stories or showing videos to children showing a character being treated negatively because of their weight.
- Setting weight expectations – Mothers discussing weight loss in front of their children e.g. “I need to lose 25 pounds.” or “I’m getting fat.”
- Linking beauty to body shape – Dads talking about how the football cheerleaders are beautiful because of their shapely legs (or other body parts!)
Kids should hear messages of positive body acceptance, regardless of how a child looks or how much they weigh.
Tips on How to Fight Body Shaming of Plus Size Kids
- Avoid diet talk around your children. Kids should not be told what’s “fattening” or “bad foods.” Instead, talk about food in a non-judgmental way.
- Show your children how to love their bodies. Hearing you say “I love the way this dress looks on me” or “You are beautiful” will help them create a positive body image.
- Be sure your pediatrician is size-friendly. Your doctor should talk health…not diet.
- Share size-positive stories with your kids. There are a lot of great size acceptance books available for kids to read, or for adults to read to them. One of our favorites is Your Body is Awesome. Check out Plus Size Kids: Body Acceptance Books for Kids for more ideas.
- Treat all your children the same, regardless of their weight. Be consistent. If one child is having dessert, all your children should be able to have dessert. If you shut off the television and push one kid off the couch to go out and play, then you should encourage all your children to play (and, you should go out and join them!)
- Don’t discuss weight gain or loss or judge other people’s bodies in front of your kids. Telling your friend “Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight. You look terrific” just tells you kids that you didn’t like their previous body as much as you like their current body.
- Treat weight as a personal characteristic like hair color or height. Encourage your children to understand that everyone has different personal characteristics.
What you say and do can cause body shaming of plus size kids. Instead of focusing on weight as a negative body characteristic, you should focus on have a major impact on their body acceptance.