You know those girls who are just naturally thin?
I’m not one. By a long shot.
But my daughter is.
Or at least she has been for the first eight years of her life so far.
She’s tall with long legs and a thin frame.
And frequently? That’s how people describe her.
They say “you’re so skinny!“
It’s said so frequently that I never even gave it a second thought. She is, after all, skinny!
But now? Now we’re quickly approaching those tender pre-teen years and I’m realizing and recognizing that words matter.
Across the board, the words we use have meaning and make an impact but especially when it comes to our daughters and their body image.
I know it’s my fault for not saying it long ago but, now? Today?
I’m asking you to please stop calling my daughter skinny.
Skinny Isn’t a Compliment
Why is it that as women we see being skinny as a compliment?
When meeting up with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while you’d never ever say “Oh you put on some weight!”
But how frequently do we say “Oh you look so skinny! You look amazing!”
In a world with constant exposure to social media, it’s impossible not to compare yourself in one way or another.
It’s easy to get caught up in not feeling good enough, not being happy with what you see in the mirror.
It’s impossible to change the world view on weight and the idea that thinner is better.
But we can change the narrative in our own home, and for ours?
We won’t be using skinny and thin to describe our daughters.
Her Weight Does Not Define Her
We often use traits to describe others and ourselves.
It’s easy to have those labels begin to define who we are.
My husband played football through high school and college.
He had this one epic catch during a college game that landed him the #1 play of the day on Sportscenter that day.
This happened 13 YEARS ago.
Yet just last night I had someone mention “the catch.”
To many people in our local area that catch is WHO my husband IS.
We are more than just a moment in time.
More than an achievement we received.
More than a physical attribute we may possess.
When you tell someone something often enough they start to really believe it about themselves.
Even a smart person can start to believe they are dumb if they are told they are stupid over and over.
By constantly labeling my daughter as “skinny” it can very easily become a core way that she views herself.
How she defines herself.
A measuring stick to decide her self value and self-worth.
She is SO much more than “that skinny tall girl.”
Bodies Change – Body Image Matters
Sure, maybe my daughter will always be thin.
But most likely? She won’t be.
Neither side of our families is filled with super-thin women who never have to worry about what they eat to maintain their figures.
So most likely at some point, my daughter won’t be naturally thin anymore.
One day my little girl will grow up.
If she’s being told her whole life that she’s skinny…what happens when that stops?
How could that impact her?
How she views herself?
I never want her to feel pressured to maintain some sort of skewed ideal body image based on a label given to her as a child.
Of course, I want her to have a healthy body but I especially want her to have a healthy body image.
I’m not saying that eating disorders are caused by labeling children based on appearance but surely avoiding such labels could also help in avoiding an eating disorder situation later in life.
The words we use matter and they matter a LOT when it comes to children.
How we describe them is how they will describe themselves.
Tell a child he’s smart and he’ll see himself as smart.
Tell a child she’s skinny? And well that’s what she will expect of herself.
A child told he’s smart who struggles in school? He’ll probably work harder to get those grades up.
A child who’s told she’s skinny who goes through puberty and has body changes that naturally make her less thin?
What happens then?
She works harder to be skinny?
Is that what we want for her? No.
My daughter is smart. She is crazy athletic. She is a leader. She is brave. She is a light in the world. She is an includer. She is so funny.
She is so much more than skinny.
Choose to use words to define our children that not only help build them up today but will also be uplifting to them in the future.
That will encourage them to be their best selves – not meet some impossible physical appearance standards set by weird social focuses.
Her Weight Does Not Define Others
My daughter has a sister.
She has cousins.
She has friends.
And when people single out my daughter and mention how skinny she is?
Those girls hear those words.
Those kids notice that they aren’t being called skinny too.
Not only does it affect my child, but it affects all those around her.
If someone is calling her skinny but not her sister does that mean that her sister is less pretty?
That her sister needs to look differently?
Just as much as I want to protect my eight year old daughter…I want to protect my five year old too.
Sisters aren’t always built the same and I want both of my girls to ALWAYS love themselves, be proud of what they see in the mirror, and never find value or worth in physical appearance.
She Doesn’t Need to Find Her Worth in her Weight
Our worth is so much more than our weight.
Our pants size.
A number on the scale.
Having a healthy relationship with food and physical activity is so important.
And calling my daughter skinny? It doesn’t help achieve that and is more likely to set her up for an unhealthy relationship with both of those things.
Think about yourself and how you view your weight.
Do you love your own body?
Do you want your daughter to feel the way you do?
What can you change in the way you talk about yourself when you are around her and the way you talk to her to help ensure she has a positive self-image?
It’s important to use positive self-talk.
Not only for our own confidence but also for our children to hear.
I want my son to see what a real woman looks like so his expectations in his future wife will be realistic.
I don’t want him to think beauty is some photoshopped, highly filtered, unrealistic perfection.
I want him to see my squishy post-baby pooch and know that it is beautiful.
I want my girls to see me smile when looking at photos of us together.
Not hearing me complain about how I look in the photo or what body parts I dislike about myself on that given day.
I want them to hear me talking about myself in a positive way.
I want my daughter to talk about herself in the same positive ways too.
I want them to see me without makeup. With my messy morning hair.
I want them to know that this is what real beauty is and that I love how God made me and also how He made them – exactly as they are.
I want them to know the photoshopped, highly filtered, unrealistic perfection they see is just that – unrealistic.
I want them to find their worth in WHO they are and WHOSE they are.
Not in their weight but in their hearts, their minds, their talents, their love, their passions, their spirits.
Yes, my daughters are beautiful. Beautiful is a beautiful word to describe each other.
Beautiful can be meant as physical attractiveness but also can describe the mind and heart too.
Feel free to refer to my daughters as beautiful.
Feel free to call my oldest daughter athletic and strong as she works hard at gymnastics and it’s evident in her muscle tone and strength.
Feel free to call her smart as she loves reading and works hard to achieve her reading goals and loves learning at school.
Feel free to call her funny as she loves to make others laugh and her joyous spirit is contagious.
But please don’t call her skinny.