, Newburyport, MA


January 1, 2014

The Daily Parent: Post-holiday fat talk — Let’s not do it

’Tis the season to bash our bodies in front of our daughters, talking obsessively about how many pounds we’ve gained over the holidays and the urgent need to shed them.

Weight loss is the No. 1 New Year’s resolution, and one that receives much public discussion. Here’s an idea: Let’s not do that. If we decide to diet and ramp up our exercise regime, we can just do it but not talk about it around the house.

Little pitchers and all that ... our daughters are listening closely. They take their cues about how to feel about their bodies from both the culture around them and the female role models in their own homes. We moms need to teach girls to be active and to eat healthy food, not to be excessively calorie-conscious.

Soon, we will all be hearing about how female celebrity bodies fared over the holidays. We will be told who should not be wearing bikinis on tropical beaches during winter vacation escapes. There is no checkout aisle at the grocery store where young girls will not see this dynamic splashed across half a dozen magazine covers right at eye level. Really depressing.

Let me take that back. It’s not just depressing, it’s infuriating.

In magazines, on television, in movies and in the real world, female clothing styles have become uniformly body-hugging. No one escapes notice and assessment when dressed this way, and it is difficult for girls and women to release themselves from dissecting their every line, curve or bulge in the mirror and considering how others — especially boys and men — will judge their bodies.

Does any of this mean there are no legitimate concerns about obesity? No, of course not. We do have an obesity epidemic in this country that has initiated a serious conversation about fast food, school lunches and sedentary American lifestyles. It is reasonable to feel that action is needed to help both adults and children live healthier lives.

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