If you follow me on social media you would know that recently I posted a very excited statement that my child didn’t know what a diet was. (It was one of those "OMG look at what my kid did moments"...with her adding "that sentence is Insta worthy...you are weird," to crash me back to earth). After my fist pumping, jump screaming excitement dissipated I realized that I needed to ask a few follow up questions as well as figure out how to manage the next few years of her life now that I had essentially taught my 10 year old what a diet is (my version of diets which may or may not have included an “s” bomb in my description).
To save the backspace button on my phone (typing this in the car as we drive to a rugby match-parental multitasking at its finest) I am going to refer to my child as E ( the younger is e- smart right?!?) So this started a few months ago when E was learning about puberty in school, realizing I truly wanted to control the conversation about body sizes and abilities I decided to pick up Sonya Renee Taylor’s book “Celebrating your body! (And all it’s changes) (FYI E and I are going to write a review of the book when we are finished...maybe not so much a review but a gushing post about how you all need to read it.) I chose this particular book for a few different reasons. I LOVE Taylor’s work-(have you read “The Body is not an Apology” yet?)- as well as loving the diversity of bodies depicted in the pages. So, we were reading it together, stopping anytime E had a question or wanted clarification or to say for the 100th time “ so you get hair where??” when all of a sudden she says “ we need to stop I just don’t understand” I guess my face asked “what?” because she then said “ the books says diets are not good for your body and I do not know what a diet is...so what is it anyways?” I started to laugh. Which I can tell you that you should not laugh out loud while reading a book on puberty with your child. After dealing with her anger at me laughing (she thought it was at her) I explained that her not knowing what a diet is, is perhaps in the top 5 moments of my adult life.We proceeded to talk about diets, who might do them, has she heard anyone as school talk about diets or needing to lose weight (the answer to that was yes but she said she never wanted to talk about that so often left to go do something else hence missing the details). We had somehow managed to get through the first 10 years of life without learning anything about food manipulation. I reached over and kissed her saying “ you are perfection”. The reply “I know we all are”. In that moment. I had hope. I had hope that this generation might not be getting the same messaging about their bodies as I did. I had hope that people were becoming more aware of how they talk about their child’s body to them. E already talks about everyone’s body being different and embracing these differences. Or was this hope false because I work my ass off to be inclusive off all bodies, abilities, genders, races in all aspects of my work and personal life (and I make mistakes in this area all the time but am trying to learn and grow and show my kids that is ok)
After our talk I sat back and thought about it some more. Yes there is no body talk in the house but there has to be more. There has to be more than that for her to not really understand what a diet is. As I thought about it I realized that my stance on body talk has truly helped her be shielded from it. Pretty much everyone in my life knows my views on bodies, diets and how we talk about these things. I do think that most people in my life do not talk about their diets or body talk around me (and therefore my kids) because they know that it will end up being a conversation instead of a flippant remark. I kinda feel like this has helped form a force field of sorts around my kids. It's not a perfect field and I know that the dark side will likely be able to find a weak spot and weasel in at some point but for now it seems to be working to hold diet culture at bay. It just goes to prove to me how important it is to talk about our own bodies in a neutral or positive way at home. How important it is role model these behaviours.
But diet culture is a shape shifting villain that rivals Thanos (my first Marvel reference??...hmmm) in strength and determination. I know that it is every where and as they get older they will see it too. I hope the base that we have been working to build around bodies and how we treat them will hold. I hope that this base is safe and warm and is comfortable enough to come home to when needed.
In the meantime we have talked more about diets. I told E what they mean and why people used them. I talk to her about the culture and how people think that their lives will be better if they lose weight and so they pursue this dream without living their lives in the moment. We even talked about how people use "health" to fat shame and encourage people to diet. To which my almost 10 year old looked me straight in the eye and said...." you mean people think that you can determine someones health by looking at them??...That makes no SENSE!!"
And that is why I have hope in the future....
Until next time by Unapologetically you...while I be Unapologetically me..