I can tell you exactly how many times I have heard this statement from women who have doctoral degrees — 5. After all my years in the health and wellness industry, there are few things anyone can say that still shock me, but that one always does. Now, I will say I hear this from many woman but it’s the ones who are highly successful often with advanced degrees that really shock me.
I can even picture the faces of these women as they say the words, and it occurs to me that they didn’t pull that idea of being a failure because of their weight out of thin air. Society in general teaches little girls at a very young age that no matter what they accomplish, their appearance and their weight will always be more important than anything else they do. That belief is so very wrong. If we want the next generation of woman to be strong and confident, we have to stop this right now.
If you start to feel the need to tell your daughter that she needs to worry about her weight, STOP and instead talk to her about being healthy, strong and powerful. Show her by setting an example through healthy eating habits, exercising and keeping healthy food in the house. Let the emphasis be on health, not weight. Then tell her about these amazing, powerful women and let their stories inspire her.
Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer: The first female war correspondent. You may not know her name, but you’ve probably seen her pictures. She took pictures of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and recorded the India-Pakistan violence through her photographs as well.
Elizabeth Blackwell, Medical Doctor: The first female doctor to graduate medical school in the US; she was also a registered doctor in the UK. She later founded a college to train other female physicians.
Marie Curie, Physicist: The first woman to win a noble prize — twice. Her work led to the discovery of radioactivity, as well as the element Radium.
Harriet Tubman, former slave: In spite of debilitating injuries, she was a major conductor of the underground railroad that helped to free slaves.
Adele: Out of 183 nominations, Adele has received 98 awards and that includes 7 Grammy awards. Oh wait, those don’t count because she’s fat. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
I think the greatest way we degrade women is by making their weight such an important factor in their lives. I am not going to pretend that appearance doesn’t matter in our society — we all know that it does. If we want our girls to embody their greatest potential, we have to encourage them to understand that their potential is greater than their jean size.
That message has to start a home; it starts with you. Teach your daughters to love themselves, respect their bodies and value their health and minds as the greatest gifts they have ever received. This way, you will truly create a powerful woman who is not insecure or food-fearing. She will not be a woman who reaches her full potential but never appreciates or feels worthy of her successes.
Love your children enough to help them see how amazing they really are. And while you’re at it, work on loving yourself so you can be the example.