Family Members Should Get Off of Their Kids’ Backs About Weight 


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

Savannah Spengler, Contributor

Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve always received comments from my family members about my weight. That’s right, these are the people who were supposed to always love and support me through my life experiences. Terms like “chunky,” “chubby,” and “fat” have been thrown in my face. 

But, some might say, that’s just tough love, those comments are supposed to change you for the better. 

You wanna know what those comments did to me? Well, it certainly didn’t make me grow up with confidence or trust in my body, but rather with shame and pushing my body with starvation attempts and useless diets that would only hurt me more. 

Family, ah yes. These supposed people who always want the best for you. Except, that’s not all families, especially not mine. I guess you could say they just didn’t know any better, but the damage they did might make you rethink that statement. Most people don’t know the weight of their words. Growing up, my relatives’ words mattered more than anyone to me. If they were pleased with something, I was likely pleased with it as well. The same philosophy extended to weight. 

This really began when they were not pleased with their own weights. They had completely normal sized bodies, just not stick skinny. What is wrong with that, I will never know. But they certainly thought they knew. They thought they could tell each other what to eat, laugh about how fat they were, talk about exercise in a shameful, punishing way and not expect any child around them to take anything away from them. 

Well, lucky them, it definitely had an effect on me. 

It just felt like it was all about how I looked to them. If I had lost some weight practicing dance, other sports, or even just eating a bit less it was an automatic praise. The statement “it’s not that you were bad before, but you look better now” was almost always what I received. The thing is, at those times, I really didn’t care about how much I weighed. But some of their words made me care. And care a lot more than I should’ve. 

Fast forward to quarantine this summer, I went down a pretty threatening rabbit hole. What started as simple exercise transformed into an obsession and a hatred for my own body. A constant need to change the way I looked. Losing enjoyment in almost everything I did just so I could be hungry, lose the weight, and think I was happy with myself just to point out my own insecurities again. Only exercising to change the way my body looked, not being able to go out in public or do anything I wanted without dropping a few pounds first. I never wanted to stop moving. I could not sit down and feel satisfied with how much I exercised. I always wanted more exercise, and less and less food. There were no exceptions. Having probably around 1,200 calories a day (enough to properly sustain a toddler), constantly being anxious at meal times, dropping pounds at a rapidly unhealthy and unsustainable pace, feeling cold, losing myself.

And what made me want to do this more? Hearing those words of “encouragement” from my family members. I’ll never forget all that they said. 

“You look so skinny.”

“Your dedication to fitness is incredible.”

“I like you here now.”

“Don’t lose anymore weight or else you won’t have a pants size to go into anymore.”

So, my advice? Let’s not say that adults and authority figures know everything, because it’s simply not true. They need to know the effect of their words and watch what they say around people, especially kids. Just because they are older does not mean that they have a right to constantly judge and make comments about my body or anyone else’s. They know that kids look up to them as role models, so they need to stop making these potentially dangerous comments and associate a child’s worth with how they look. I am not “better” at one weight just because I lost weight. I actually feel so much better now since I’ve lost those thoughts and gone into eating disorder recovery.

No child deserves those types of comments. Stop forcing your outdated diet and exercise habits on your children. It’s likely to do nothing but damage their thought processes more until they realize on their own that they are hurting themselves. 

 Savannah Spengler is a freshman who enjoys dancing and volunteering with Key Club.