No, Size Does Not Matter

Dear every woman ever, 

Please, PLEASE stop talking about your weight! Hear me when I say this: Your comments about your size and the sizes of the women around you (positive or negative) are planting seeds in the minds of your children that you may not have intended.

moms jeans kid jeans

No, you’re right, I am not an expert. I have no degree in psychology or in nutrition. I am, however, a woman, a daughter, a long-time mentor of teen girls, and a girl-mom to three. I have sat around fast food tables and watched young women pick at their food. I have talked to a girl about how her mom is diet-hopping to lose weight, and seen her blush when she admitted that her mom wears smaller jeans than she does. Once, I threw a shower for a friend, and out of 40 thin, beautiful women, three ate. 

Now, before you misunderstand what I am saying, let me be painfully transparent: I learned this lesson in a pretty scathing way. My daughter, five at the time, sat across from me in a restaurant, seeming not to notice a heavier man sitting behind us. As I buckled her car seat straps, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Ugh, mom I never want to be fat.” Shaken up by the fierce judgement of my child, I gathered my thoughts and asked why she was even thinking about that. She said, “That man inside was fat, and fat is gross.” If there were ever a moment when I have been face-down in my failure as a parent, it would be that one.

My teen years were spent obsessing about my size, a habit that only grew more controlling in college when I battled the feared “freshman 15.” By the time marriage and babies came, I was 40 pounds heavier and, like many of us, unhappy with myself and my worth as a woman. This moment with my daughter, and many before and after, taught me a very important lesson: Talking about size is unhealthy for all of us.

Weight ≠ Worth

Commenting on a person’s weight places a perceived value on her as a human. Think about it. When you see someone who has lost weight, what do you say? “WOW! You look great!” I am guilty of this. It is a pretty natural response. We want to praise someone who has worked hard to get healthy; however, we cannot know if the loss is based on a healthy mindset or due to a real health or heart issue. Basing someone’s attractiveness on her size places a condition on her beauty. Is she only beautiful as a size two? 

Maybe you only complain or comment on your own weight. That’s not hurting anyone else, right? Take a moment to look around and see who might be learning from you, even in those most private moments. Learn from my mistakes! My husband and I have often complained about/complimented our weight in front of my children — which obviously impacted their points of view. Any of my three daughters could have my body type, or one that is smaller or larger. Voicing my negative perceptions further shapes how they will feel about their own bodies in the future.

Weight ≠ Health

While weight can be a health factor, someone’s size does not determine whether she is truly healthy. I have walked with far too many women through painful, life-altering seasons. Each of these women lost an intense amount of weight and were often greeted by how wonderful they looked; however, on the inside their worlds were imploding. Weight loss is sometimes tragic.

On the other hand, some of the healthiest, most stunning women I have met have never stepped foot outside of the plus-size sections. They exercise, eat well, and are built to be the size and shape they are. Sometimes a number is just that — a number.

Changing the Conversation

Speak differently to our kids. Let’s teach them what it means to be healthy. Have your kids help you grocery shop, teaching as you walk through the produce section and down the aisles. I love to let my daughters choose something new and funky when we shop. We get to taste a new fruit or veggie, and they get to learn that food should come with variety and balance

Change our self-talk. Maybe you need to adjust your weight for health reasons; however, don’t make this journey about how you feel about yourself or about your worth as a woman. You and the women around you are so much more than a number on a tag or a scale. Be aware of the value you place on your size and of the impact it has on your children. 

Think big. When we imagine our children in their teen and adult years, it is pretty unlikely that our dreams for them involve a goal weight or size. Yet, the way we flippantly talk about weight is embedding the idea that at least some part of their worth is measured this way. Love your own body, treat it well, and speak well of it — for YOU and for your kiddos! Change your praises for other women to involve character and traits of integrity, teaching the littles that these are the things that matter.

Sincerely,

Just Another Mom

Beth
Beth and her husband, Joe, met in Oklahoma but were quickly transplanted to Texas in pursuit of full-time ministry. Mama to three perfectly unique and spunky girls, she spends her time adventuring in the day-to-day. She loves Jesus, all the plants, and sipping coffee while listening to other people’s stories. Read some of them, and her own thoughts on the joys and trials of faith and parenting at Psalm One Twenty Six. Or follow her on Instagram. Beth joined the team as the community sponsorship coordinator in March 2018, but now works as a co-host for the Momfessions Podcast.

6 COMMENTS

  1. No. I’m sorry but I disagree. While I agree we need to teach our children to be healthy, it’s dangerous to have this “size doesn’t matter” attitude. Being overweight is never healthy. I don’t think we should teach our kids that being “skinny” is a goal but we should set being fit as a goal. A size 20 isn’t fit not healthy. Ever.

  2. Thank you for your response, Sarah. I agree, being fit and learning to maintain balance and health is the goal, however, placing a number alongside that goal is where you and I differ. If you have a moment, I encourage you to look up Jessamyn Stanley. She is a yoga instructor, and a “plus sized” woman. Even as a size 6 in my younger days, I was never as fit or healthy as this woman. When we place limits on our health and our worth by the tag on our jeans, we fail to empower our children to reach beyond the things they believe they are not (or never will be), and become the powerhouse humans they were made to be. Thank you again for your input!

  3. Great observations and thoughts in your blog. Love to read anything you are writing. Keep up the great work!!

    I too work with youth. I’ve been trying to teach teens for over 30 years that they are made in God’s image. They are beautiful!!

    I believe your heart is wanting us to realize that we are to take pride in ourselves! I’ve know women that are 5’0” all the way to 5’11. They should never weigh 100 pounds. The taller height, normally comes with a larger frame. And the reverse for the less tall women.

    As you stated so well, we each should keep fit! That is a goal that also changes with age. And fit often means muscle! Muscle weighs more!

    I certainly wouldn’t want to see my precious granddaughters become so obsessed with weight that their size would take the place as their god! Let’s face it, more time should be focused on the shape of our heart for the Lord! Not our body shape.

    Blessings to you and your precious family!

  4. Thank you for writing this article! Size doesn’t equal health, happiness, success, or so many other things that society places on us today. As someone who works with Eating disorders and someone who has personally struggled , I see the impact every day of people who have grown up thinking if I weigh X amount, if I’m a size X, it will bring me what I want. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Some bodies are larger and some are smaller. It’s having a healthy relationship with food that matters.

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