Many people tend to blame the media for their girls’ body image securities. But you’ll be surprised to know that Dr. Leslie Sim, clinical director of Mayo Clinic’s eating disorder program and child psychologist, says “moms are probably the most important influence on a daughter’s body image.”
A study by Keep It Real Campaign points out that 80 percent of all American 10-year-old girls have been on a diet.
Now, aware of this reality, if you ever overheard a mother criticizing her daughter with nasty body-shaming comments, and forcing her to wear a dress that’s way too small for her, what would you do?
Would you step forward to defend the girl? Or would you mind your own business?
This exact same disturbing scenario, as seen in the 2004 movie Spanglish, starring Adam Sandler, unfolded at Hazel boutique in Ramsey, New Jersey. The girl, who was wearing a tight-fitted dress, told her mother, “It’s really uncomfortable. See it’s too tight.”
In spite of her protest, the mother insisted her daughter to wear the “inspiration dress” so that it could motivate her to lose weight.
“You are gonna look so beautiful when you lose those extra pounds,” she told the girl.
Overhearing the mother publicly shaming her daughter into shedding those extra pounds, many customers grew concerned. Worried that the parent’s hurtful remarks about size and diet would bring about a host of other health problems, including an eating disorder, depression, and bad body image issues, they jumped to the girl’s defense.
Wanting to boost the girl’s self-esteem, one customer told the girl, “I think you look great.”
“You should not worry about any of that at your age,” another customer said.
Some customers stepped up to offer the mother a bit of free advice.
“It really messed with her. I think we need to uplift young girls,” one said.
Another young customer commented, “She doesn’t have to be skinny to feel pretty.”
While the other cautioned the mother, “I think telling her she needs to lose weight and needs to be skinnier might give her an eating disorder, and I don’t think you should say that to her.”
However, all these opinions fell on deaf ears. Not heeding their warnings, the mother stood firm on her decision to find her daughter a smaller size.
The mother even chided one woman, who was also shopping with her daughter, that she should “mind your own business.”
Upset over what she said, the woman angrily refuted, “You have a beautiful daughter. It’s about what’s inside here, it’s not about what you see on the outside. We all come in different shapes and sizes.”
Just as the two women began arguing, host John Quinones from ABC’s reality TV show “What Would You Do?” secretly approached.
Thankfully, this was just a social experiment conducted by the show. Actor Michele was hired to act as the mother while young actor Amanda portrayed the daughter.
“I am so happy that you are here right now. I was getting so upset,” the woman said. “I just couldn’t… I couldn’t stand by.”
The woman also shared that, “No child is perfect but as a mom, you encourage them to do the best they can.”
She also added, “Don’t shame, as shaming is the worst thing you can do.”
Did you know that it’s never wise for parents to comment on their daughter’s weight?
According to a study published in the journal Eating & Weight Disorders, a parent’s comment on a daughter’s weight can have a lasting impact on the child, causing her to be dissatisfied with her adult weight years later.
Then, how can a mom help her child lose weight without making her feel bad?
One netizen wrote on Circle of Moms, “Why say anything to a child about their weight? There is no nice way to tell anyone they are fat. Instead, you make healthy meals with smaller portions and then fruit or veggie snacks for when they get hungry.”
“Kids need to get away from the TV and out to play. Sports are great. Anything to get them moving and motivated,” she continued. “You are the parent—take charge of what they eat.”
This social experiment definitely serves as a reminder to all mothers out there. Instead of telling your child she’s fat, you can play a positive role by encouraging your daughter to live a healthy lifestyle. Moms, please keep this in mind!
Watch the “thought-provoking” video here: