Two things I learned about this week have appalled me for somewhat the same reason — teaching little girls the wrong things about appearance, health and fitness.
Like many people across the country, I was shocked to learn about the mom giving her 8-year-old daughter Botox injections because of wrinkles in her forehead. After reading several different stories about this family, I learned the little girl “wants” the Botox and even searches her face for wrinkles, she wants to have breast enlargement surgery and a nose job, and she participates in beauty pageants. I also learned the little girl gets waxed, but my husband and I read conflicting stories on what parts of this girl’s body are being waxed.
Those of us who were lucky enough NOT to be raised by this mother know that 8-year-old girls do not “want” any of this stuff. The only reason this little girl thinks she needs these types of improvements is because someone has already taught her that no matter what, her own personal beauty will not be good enough.
I have very strong feelings about the damage that beauty pageants inflict on little girls — just watch one episode of Toddlers & Tiaras — but I’ll save that for another day. (Don’t watch more than one episode, we don’t want to encourage them.)
The other item I find appalling is butt-toning shoes for little girls. Seriously, should a little girl be worried about what she looks like from the back?
It doesn’t even matter that these shoes do not work (they don’t), what kind of message does this send? What kind of parent would buy these impractical shoes for a little girl?
OK, any parents out there who are seriously worried about whether their children are fat, or unhealthy or whatever, here are some tips for you:
- Stop eating at fast food restaurants — stop feeding your kids fast food meals.
- Provide healthy home-cooked meals for your children, and limit the junk food in your house.
- Encourage your children to get natural exercise by playing outside.
- Encourage your children to try new sports.
- Take your children to the park or on a walk.
- Be a good example. Eat healthy foods and get exercise yourself.
And if you encourage your kids by talking about eating healthy foods and being healthy, then they won’t be obsessed with their looks and especially their weight.
We do have an obesity problem in this country. But making little girls feel that they are not good enough, that they are not pretty enough or that there is a quick fix is not the solution.
I have had a personal semi-boycott against a specific fast-food restaurant chain for years. It got really fired up when the company introduced salads to its menu, but the salads were worse than a high-calorie hamburger. My kids wanted to eat there, but I usually would say no and explained that the foods were not healthy. (The truth is, we did eat there on rare occasions, but they knew it was a big deal to be there.)
One day on my way home from work I was dying for a Diet Coke. This chain had a great price on a huge soft drink, so I bought one. (I have since given up Diet Coke.)
When I walked in the door with the cup from that chain, my daughter went ballistic! She recited back to me all of my complaints about fat and calories and nutrition.
I explained to her that it was just a drink and that I did not buy any food, but she pointed out that it didn’t matter, I was still encouraging them. She was right!
Let me point out that I am not a nutrition nut. We do sometimes eat fast food and that includes French fries. (I love French fries!) But you can be healthy if you eat junk only in moderation.