Weighing on His Mind


How much we’ve gained.  How much we hope to lose.

I have to lose ten pounds before my friend’s wedding.   Do I look fat in this?  I can’t possibly eat that; I’m trying so hard to be good.

This is the world we live in–where the size of our bodies is too often our number-one concern, where our self-worth is tied to the size of our waist, where we judge others based on the size of theirs.

As adults, though this may disappoint us, even plague us, it doesn’t surprise us.  Scroll through your Facebook news feed on any given day and count the number of articles dedicated to weight loss, the number of friends who are trying to lose weight and are documenting their progress.

But when your child approaches you and asks you if he’s fat, you know something has to give.

At the risk of descending into the obvious, bodies come in all shapes and sizes; and I truly believe that healthy bodies also come in all shapes and sizes.  As parents, we have tried to approach eating in as healthfully a way as possible with our children—not using food as a reward, encouraging them to stop eating when they’re full (even at the risk of not “cleaning their plates”), practicing the notion of everything in moderation (including ice cream and corn dogs) and not making every food choice the focus of our lives.  We don’t make comments about our own weight, and we don’t use or permit the use of the word “fat” as an adjective to describe human beings.

So, when your very sweet, very smart soon-to-be-nine-year-old approaches you and asks you if you think he is fat, you have to think fast.  You are torn between wanting to shift the focus of the conversation from the way his body looks to the choices he needs to make for his body to be healthy; but yet his laser-like focus on his appearance is very real, the topic very important to him.  His brain understands what I’m saying; but despite all our good work, I fear his self-worth is fighting me and trying very hard to attach itself to his appearance.

In a few hours he will be nine years old.  And this is what is on his mind.

This is the world we live in.


2 thoughts on “Weighing on His Mind

  1. He knows he can get an honest answer–and, it is a ripe time to have him understand how the male and female bodies change, and what stage he is at now. Not to obsess but to attend–the adage everything in moderation–food catches up with us, and good food choices in youth sustain and maintain a body better than bad choices that the body makes one pay for later.

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