Many children will grow up hearing things about their body before they’re even old enough to notice it themselves.
Often times, these words will stick with them in a way both the child and the parents are oblivious to.
It’s common to hear adults say such things to children, especially in their own family.
“You’ve got some big thighs, girl!”
“Ooh, you’re so skinny.”
Then there’s the classic “you’ve gained weight.”
More often than not, parents and relatives tend to think children will brush it off, or it shouldn’t bother them because they were only “joking.”
However, adults’ words affect children in the long run a lot more than they think.
I remember growing up I used to visit my dad’s side of my family and being told: “You’ve got big legs just like your auntie.”
I remember being 12 years old and being called “thunder thighs” by one of my brother’s close friends.
I remember going through my first two years of high school and being reminded every day by a member of my own family that “you look like you’ve put on a couple pounds.”
I had no problem with how I looked and felt about my body and I didn’t begin to notice these things at all — until I heard these things again and again.
Now that is all I am able to see.
Sure these things may seem harmless at the time, but when children constantly hear things like that, it can really damage their self-esteem in the long run.
These children will get older and remember how many times they were told they have big thighs and not feel comfortable wearing shorts. They won’t feel comfortable in their own skin because of how closely they feel the need to pay attention to their weight.
Your words matter a lot more than you think.
Body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders are among all of the potential challenges that could come along in a person’s life because of how often their body was commented on growing up.
There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t look in the mirror and hate what I see, no matter what changes my body goes through.
Those words stuck with me.
The next time you feel the need to tell a child in your family that they need to eat something because they’re too skinny, or comment on how big their legs are even though it’s in their genes, think about the possibility that they will remember it and think about it every single day.