My Family’s Perception of Health (and How I Changed Their Minds)



date published

July 20, 2015, 8:28 p.m.



My family and I are extremely close and for the most part we share a lot of the same views.  However, there is one exception and that is associating slim bodies with overall health and fitness.

During my childhood and teenage years, I was involved in competitive gymnastics and cheerleading. I was never taught to be concerned about my weight or to feel ashamed of eating certain food. Growing up, my family took great pride in always eating healthy homemade food. Once I moved away from home in my early twenties to continue my education, my body began to change. That was when my parents started to make remarks about my weight and certain foods I was eating. Every time I came home to visit, I would hear comments like, “Stop eating that, you’re going to gain weight” or “You’re going to eat all of that? Don’t take so much.” This quickly became the norm. I was confused and upset that I was hearing things I never thought my parents would say. It made me feel like a disappointment every time I saw them.

In the midst of all of this it was time for my annual physical. When I met with my doctor she was a bit concerned that I was constantly exhausted and low on B12. She advised me to start exercising, eat more nutritious foods and incorporate vitamins. After my appointment, I was nervous about telling my parents, I felt it would only encourage their negative attitude towards weight and food. Unfortunately, they reacted the way I expected them to. I was bombarded with comments and criticized, which led to a number of heated arguments. The tension continued to build and sometimes I didn’t feel comfortable visiting them.

Eventually, I decided I’d had enough. I have always been a body positive person and I no longer wanted to go back and forth with my parents over this ridiculous issue. Instead of staying angry, I sat down with my parents and educated them as best as I could about body shaming, Health at Every Size, and the impact of classifying foods as “bad”. I also provided tips on how to speak to someone when concerned about their health. After several conversations with my parents they started to understand how their words and actions were hurting me. Finally, my parents got it!  Since then, they have been committed to thinking critically about media and beauty ideals. They have also made a huge effort to encourage my journey towards a healthy balanced lifestyle without using comments about body shape and have been very supportive.

It is so difficult to be body positive in a society that is so obsessed with media and its version of what health looks like. It is important to encourage one another to be healthy for all the right reasons while continuing to respect and celebrate bodies of all sizes and shapes. Beauty is built from the inside out and it's a quality that does not depend solely on aesthetics. 

The author wishes to remain anonymous 

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