While I was reading The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents, I also read a few articles online that poked fun at women for their weight. One was about the witty and talented Lena Denham of  the hit HBO show, “Girls”.  Not long ago, shock jock Howard Stern referred to Dunham as “a little fat girl who kinda looks like Jonah Hill, and she keeps taking her clothes off, and it kind of feels like rape.”

So an average girl can’t be the star of a show? This is exactly the problem with society today – body image is so skewed. A woman can’t be an average size and be on television without being called fat. Later on when Stern interviewed Dunham, he apologized to her saying he loved her and thinks she’s “terrific.”

It took Marci Warhaft-Nadler 20 years to figure out her own body image issues but she knows now that “self-worth should not be measured in pounds.”  She spent 25 years in the fitness industry telling people how to take care of their bodies while secretly abusing her own.

Today, she is a body image specialist and wrote a new book to educate parents of body image issues in our children. The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents is written with a goal to tear down the harmful myths surrounding beauty and fitness and empower kids to love and appreciate themselves for who they are.

 the body image survival guide

81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat.

The #1 wish of girls 11-17 is to lose weight.

These statistics are shocking and worrisome. In the book, Marci writes that little girls learn so much from their own mothers so it’s crucial that they see their moms being accepting and kind of themselves.

Marci talks about body image from as young as three years old up until the teen years – it’s disturbing how much society, media and toys can influence the way we look at ourselves and how much emphasis is placed on how we look. Images are all around us, from television, movies, music, magazines – we can’t escape what society says our bodies should look like.

But wait – it’s not only girls that have body image issues. Marci touches upon body issues in BOYS – yes boys… heroes like Superman and GI Joe suddenly have huge muscles. How can boys try to achieve that? Look at the beloved Superman and how he looked when first created, and how he appears today:

superman then and ow

Marci offers helpful suggestions in the book such as role modeling healthy body image behaviour, image proofing the home and even making the home a “talk-free fat zone”. She offers tips on how to teach your kids to love themselves and to look up to “normal” role models, how to compliment children on their actions – not their looks.

Here’s one game in Marci’s book that she suggests parents can play with their kids – the “I am” alphabet game where you can each find positive characteristics – none on physical appearance – to describe yourselves. For example, A is for Adorable, B is for Bright, etc.

Great questions and the right answers, Marci’s book is backed by stats, studies and real-life experiences and quotes from kids and parents. Marci offers practical tips and good advice on answering the difficult questions that children may ask parents – the most important tip? Conversations with children should never be about weight but should focus on health.

Marci’s book is a real eye-opener – every parent should read it, parents of girls AND boys.

The book will be officially released March 15 (through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca) but you can purchase now through at FitvsFiction.com.

Enter to win a copy!

We’re giving away a few copies of Marci’s book. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway.

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Author

Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

14 Comments

  1. I only have sons but I worry about this quite a lot. My oldest is husky and my middle son is so slim. They both worry about size in their own way. Any advice is appreciate.

    • Hi Chantal,
      Body image issues are a much bigger problem for boys now than they’ve ever been. For boys, the pressure comes from 2 directions: Some boys are feeling like they’re too “fat” and other boys feel like they’re too small (not muscular enough). I hear from concerned parents of boys as young as 9 years old who are ashamed of the fact they don’t have 6-pack abs like the boys on TV!
      In my book, I have games and activities that get boys (and girls) thinking about what “REAL” bodies look like and why comparing themselves to older, unrealistic images is a waste of time and energy. Here’s a tip: Never discuss weight…always keep discussion about health. Regardless of size or shape, both kids should be encouraged to live with balance and moderation (no special meals or exercise plans for either). PLAY as a family, encourage physical activity and make sure that there is NO FAT TALK allowed in the house. Also, remember that while boys tend not to verbalize their feelings as easily as girls do..they still FEEL just as deeply. Keep lines of communication open. :o)

  2. I have been struggling my entire life with my body image issues, and as my kids begin to get older I find them talking about how they look and their weight. Both are super healthy and perfect but I am scared that they are picking up on things from me even though I make a concentrated effort to keep my feelings to myself. Or maybe I only think that I do.

    • Hey Lindsay,
      If you’re worried about the messages you may be inadvertently sending your kids about your body image..let them “Overhear” you say KIND things about your body.

      “I love my legs because I can run around and play with my kids!” “I love my tummy because I grew my AMAZING kids in there for 9 months!”

      It can be so hard for people to accept compliments, it almost feels like we’re being vain if we like ourselves exactly as we are, but the greatest gift we can give our kids to show them that it’s more than okay to be PROUD of who we are and all we can do! :o)

  3. I think back about a lot of my life and I have always been worrying about my body. I have an almost 8 month old daughter and I really do not want her to be like that. This advice is great.

    • It’s never too early to start instilling healthy, positive body image issues. In my book, I offer age specific advice, games and projects to prepare our kids for the negative messages that may come as they get older. The negative messages may be loud, so our positive ones as parents, need to be even LOUDER!

  4. I have a tween girl, and i think that body image will be an issue for us as she grows.

    • Arm yourself! :o)

      There is a lot you can do to help your daughter grow up with the confidence she deserves. I lost over 20 years of my life to negative body image and know the importance of stepping in as early as possible.
      :o)

  5. Dianne / Smilenwaven Reply

    Sad that it’s an issue! Yes – thanks to people like Lena Dunham for breaking the stereotype!

  6. My 10 year old daughter has been complaining for 2 years that the other kids call her fat. Occassionally she will try to stop eating lunch so the kids won’t make fun of her in school. It is sad but we do try to boost her up every chance we get.

    • That’s not okay. Kids making fun of her to the point where she feels she needs to skip lunch, just gives power to her bullies and creates negative feelings around food and her body.

      What are her interests and hobbies? It’s so helpful to get kids involved in activities outside of school where they can learn skills and talents that help strengthen their self-esteem. Also, it is extremely beneficial to have a group of friends from a source outside of school where they can find support when school friends aren’t acting so friendly.

      Your daughter needs to know that the BEST bodies are healthy ones and that we’re not all supposed to look the same. That would be boring!
      :o)

  7. I have two girls so i know that we will probably have body image questions 🙂

  8. Hi Marla,
    I’ve tried to tackle as many of the situations and sticky questions our kids may have to deal with as they grow from babies to teens.
    It ain’t easy..but it is definitely possible to give our kids the tools they need to tune out the negative messages and tune in to their OWN amazing potential!

  9. I’m so glad to see a book like this on the shelves. Body issues stay with us at any age, so it’s great for parents to have help in learning how to ease them with their own kids before it becomes a serious problem.

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