Snarky sayings on t-shirts have always been popular, but now they’re even putting them on baby clothes. I heard of one the other day that made my blood boil.
I was at a birthday party for my friend’s one-year old granddaughter. The baby was happily feeding herself tortellini and managing to smear it everywhere. Someone joked about the baby stuffing her face again. Then she told the baby’s mom: “I almost bought her a t-shirt that says: “Does this diaper make me look fat?”
I was furious but didn’t want to make a fuss so I just said: “That’s not funny!”
I wish I’d said: “It’s good you didn’t buy it. Why would you want to put that toxic message on a baby? It’s not only bad for the baby—it’s also sending a negative message for kids, teens and moms to read as well.”
We are a nation obsessed with weight, yet sending mixed messages to our children about their bodies. One in 10 U.S. children under the age of two are overweight, more than double the number it was 20 years ago. And on the other extreme, hospitalizations due to eating disorders in children under 12 years old rose 119 percent since 1999, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Some parents are so afraid their children will be “fat” like one of their parents, they’re putting their babies on diets. An extreme case in 2010 made headlines when a couple was convicted of starving their baby out of fear she would become fat. Criminal mistreatment charges were brought against the parents after the infant gained just one pound in her first two months of life and her bottle was found to contain traces of laxatives.
Toddlers are like sponges. They pick up language and social cues from their parents and the world around them. As parents and grandparents, we need to be sensitive and choose our words carefully when talking to our grandchildren about body image and food intake.
Teasing and joking about someone’s weight or eating habits was common and “acceptable” in our parents’ generation. But now we are more aware that calling attention to a child “stuffing her face” or “really putting it away,” can affect a person for the rest of her life.
By simply being more conscious of our words and thinking before we speak, we can be a positive influence for this generation and stop perpetuating the obsession with weight and body image.