This happened last year in a town near mine.
Here's another scenario. You're a previous Olympic-hopeful swimmer. You're in amazing shape. You and your husband are both active, strong, sturdy and athletically built. You have a son who is five. At his pediatrician appointments, the first thing they do is weigh your son and tell you his percentages compared against other kids his age. They tell you right in front of him that he needs to lose weight - even though he's just as active, strong, sturdy and athletically built as you are.
This happened to a woman I know from one of my mommy groups.
How about this scenario. You're a new mom. You are overweight and feel unattractive. The attention you give your body is focused on losing weight and looking prettier so you will feel better about yourself. You talk about it with your friends with your baby in tow. You fester over it in front of your children. You focus on it for years and your children grow up thinking that in order to be happy, you have to meet a level of beauty defined by popular culture.
A woman came and spoke to the mom group I attend at a local church and it was eye opening for me. She spoke candidly about the eating disorder she had as a teenager that was started after she realized she looked different than the other girls at school. Her family didn't talk about feelings, so she lost herself in her need to feel happy. She has been recovered for over twenty years, but it opened her eyes to the messaging we give our children and she's doing something about it. She runs several support groups for women with eating disorders and speaks often to groups about the importance of the messaging we give to our kids.
I am a new mom. I am overweight and I feel unattractive. I feel like if I lose weight I will feel better about myself. I make fun of myself in front of my son. I fester over it and if I am not careful, I will raise my children to think that the popular culture's ideal of beauty is the only way to be happy. I want my children to love themselves. Because when you love yourself, than you give yourself the power to be a healthier person.
Changing my attitude towards my appearance is going to be the hardest change I have ever made in my life. I am going to have to work on it every day. Especially because I am NOT healthy. My first inclination is to think, 'If I were healthier, than I would be happier; I would be a better person'. And while part of that statement could possible be true, the real truth is believing that 1) I am not a bad person or a bad mother because I am not healthier and 2) if I allow myself to be happier, than I will be more empowered to be healthier.
The messaging our kids receive from popular culture, from peers, from insurance companies that send home letters to kids with high BMI's, and from our own inabilities to love our bodies is daunting and unhealthy. As a parent, I can only hope to release my children from the shackles of insecurity, but the only way to do that is to let myself be free too.