People have always been conscious of their bodies, spending countless hours worrying whether they were too fat, too thin, and so on. Unfortunately, our children are not immune to these concerns. Getting ridiculed for being overweight can shatter a kid’s self-belief and push them into depression. It is in such times that social worker Jessica Sanders from Melbourne decided to write Love Your Body.
The book is “two-sided, focusing on positive body image and also teaching long-term skills, such as self-care and self-love. Self-care is a really important part of it because it’s a practical skill they [young girls] can use their whole lives. This gives more agency in young people; so they can take more time to take care of themselves,” Sanders said to Orenda.
As a child, Sanders was very active, climbing trees and building forts. When she started primary school, Sanders started considering that her body might not be good enough. She was taller than all the boys in the class, which made her very uncomfortable. All through her teenage years, Sanders experimented with dieting, believing that only when she looks like the models in the magazines would her “real-life” start.
But over the years, Sanders realized that hating her own body just because she wanted to fulfill an ideal was psychologically harming. And eventually, she started becoming comfortable and confident with her body. In 2017, Sanders came across an article that discussed how women were conducting labiaplasty surgery for completely non-medical reasons. That is when the idea of writing the book came into her mind. She was angry that women were so obsessed with modifying their bodies for unrealistic beauty standards.
Sanders hopes that the girls who read her book find the confidence to love themselves no matter their body shape. One report suggests that over 50 percent of girls as young as 6 to 8 years old believe that they need to get thinner. Sanders is unhappy with this mentality. “This statistic illustrates the importance of providing girls with these valuable lessons of self-love and self-care at a young age and before they are active on social media,” she said to the Huffington Post.
A recent study claims that body shaming can end up making the victimized kids gain more weight. The study was conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda. For the study, the researchers looked at 110 children and teens who were overweight themselves or had two parents who were overweight.
During the first visit, the researchers asked kids whether they had been teased because of their weight. The survey continued for an average of 8.5 years, with some participants providing data for 15 years. “Whether they had overweight at the study’s start or not, those who reported being teased often for their weight gained 33 percent more body mass, on average, and 91 percent more fat per year than their peers who weren’t teased,” according to NPR.
Teasing has been proven to increase the level of a stress hormone called cortisol. This basically stimulates the appetite due to which a person ends up eating more than they should. Since people who are subjected to teasing can also end up in depression, they tend to avoid physical activities, which also contributes to their weight gain.