“I think my mom feels insecure about herself because every time we go to take family pictures she always says that she’s too fat.” Kaitlin, 11.
“My mom is always comparing herself to other people and my grandmother is always like, “Oh my God, look at my belly fat, it’s disgusting!” Jasmine, 10.
We all know that our society’s obsession with “thinness” is affecting people of all ages and that kids as young as five years old are struggling to live up the unrealistic images they’re inundated with on a daily basis. In my book, I talk a lot about the challenges that come from being a child with body image issues or being the parent of one. Having been a teenager when my eating disorder started, I understand what it’s like to grow up in a body that feels inadequate and I know what it’s like to constantly wish to be prettier, smarter, funnier and more interesting. It sucks. What I never expected, however, was how painful it would be to have those feelings as a grown woman with children. What made my eating disorder more disheartening as a parent was that it was no longer just affecting me, but was now impacting the lives of my children, and the guilt from that was hard to bear. While I’m grateful that my kids were young enough to be somewhat oblivious to the pain I was in, I’m also aware that while they couldn’t understand what was going on, their version of “normal” was somewhat warped, and that was my fault.
To be honest, after battling my issues for most of my life I had pretty much given up on myself. I was tired of fighting and didn’t really think I was strong enough to make the changes necessary to be healthy. Luckily, while I had given up on myself, I couldn’t give up on my kids. I knew that my sons deserved a mother who was there for them physically and emotionally and that I needed to find the strength and courage to pick myself up one more time.
Asking for help can be an incredibly difficult thing for a mom to do, because we’re usually the ones solving everyone else’s problems. Most moms feel like they need to have all the answers and be able to fix every problem that comes their way. But we can’t do it all. Even the people who get leaned on the most for support, sometimes need to do the leaning themselves, and that’s okay. I spent too much time trying to deal with my food issues on my own and then feeling guilty because I was losing the battle. Guilt is not productive. I finally sought the help I needed and although it took awhile to find a program that worked for me, I didn’t stop until I did.
Mothers want so badly to be perfect for their kids, but sometimes it’s okay for them to see our flaws. It teaches them that being imperfect is perfectly fine, and that’s an important lesson to learn.
If you’re struggling, if you know you’re not as happy as you want to be, tell someone. We’re always trying to teach our kids the importance of liking, accepting and being proud of themselves, now it’s time we start believing it for ourselves.
Mothers are incredibly strong human beings, even when they can’t see it for themselves. We have a gut instinct that will keep us fighting for our children’s well being, no matter what. It’s this need to take care of our kids that gives us the courage to do whatever it takes to take care of ourselves as well.
Self-worth shouldn’t be measured in pounds.
Marci Warhaft-Nadler is a body image advocate, writer and founder of the Fit vs Fiction workshops for students and teachers, which promotes the message that self-worth should not be measured in pounds through open discussion, visual images and games. She has become a passionate body image advocate, frequently appearing in the media, including City-TV’s ‘Breakfast Television’ and ‘The Inside Story’, Global TV’s ‘The Morning Show’, CTV’s ‘Good Morning Canada’, Slice’s ‘The Mom Show’ and ‘Doctor In The House’, Rogers TV’s ‘TeenzTalk’ and ‘Daytime’, Sun TV’s ‘Sun News Live’ and ‘Charles Adler’. She has also been a contributor to many print stories, including The National Post, The Vaughan Citizen, Can-Fit-Pro Magazine, City Parent Magazine and a number of local newspapers, and was recently promoted by supermodel, Emme, on ‘EmmeNation.’ Her book, The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents: Helping Toddlers, Tweens, and Teens Thrive, launches in March! Stay tuned!