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Self-esteem in girls and weight

SuasoriaSuasoria Raw Newbie

A friend-slash-acquaintance runs a local women's magazine intended to be positive, life-affirming, conscious, etc. She sent an email around saying "42 percent of girls in grades one through three say they want to be thinner."

I responded because I was just reading an article about school lunch programs and noted that among girls age 2-19:

White: 30% are overweight or obese

Black: 39% are overweight or obese

Latino: 35% are overweight or obese.

I'm all for self esteem, but with stats like these, I'm not sure what to think. Should overweight girls be taught to be happy about being overweight? Aren't they justified in wanting to be thinner? Shouldn't health be a foundation for self-esteem? Doctors say they're now seeing teenagers with arteries as clogged as 45-year-olds. Are we supposed to tell them they're fine just the way they are to make sure they don't suffer from low self-esteem?

Help me here...


  • troublesjustabubbletroublesjustabubble Raw Newbie

    This is so sad. I know it's a major problem here in America.

    The thing is, they AREN'T just fine the way they are and they know it or else they'd having higher self esteem. As a person they're emotional growth is stunted by weight. So, what's the solution? Well, getting children to understand the connection between health and how they look is the most important thing. Then setting goals. Once they reach a goal whether they're skinny yet or not great improves their self esteem. It's a wonderful thing.

    My father-in-law was very over weight and still is but a few months ago he decided to change his lifestyle by eating differently and even before he saw any weight loss he immediately became more confident, happier, kinder and over all a better person to be around. Now, after a few months he's made great strides in weight loss but it didn't take that to change how he felt about himself.....granted, I know girls are different but that is just an example.

  • I agree Troubles. Even with me, I havent lost but 2 lbs in like 2 months (!!) but eating better, i feel better, more confident and have self esteem. It is harder when your a teen i think.

    since i have a 5 yr old daughter, I - 1. wouldnt want her to just be happy with being un healthy just to give her self esteem, and 2. would also teach her there is much more to health than just weight.

    Its so hard for girls, and the increasing number of people over weigh is just overwhelming.

    I however, would cry, if my daughter fell into that quote "42 percent of girls in grades one through three say they want to be thinner." At that age, it just shows how society rides upon how thin you are.

  • sv3sv3 Raw Newbie

    I think pressure on girls to be supermodel thin is terrible, but I also think it's really important that parents take responsibility for feeding their children a healthy diet and teaching them that if they want to feel and look great, they need to eat the right food. I was naturally skinny as a child so never really worried about being overweight, having said that, my parents didn't let me eat junk food so I did gow up eating a relatively healthy (by cooked food standards) diet.

  • This is really sad. I do agree that while teaching our children to be skinny is wrong, educating them about health and healthy lifestyle is absolutely necessary. But I also do think it's definately wrong to tell an overweight girl that she is at fault for her obesity. That would not encourage them at all; in fact that would make them feel more insecure.

  • superfood2superfood2 Raw Newbie

    I think it's a huge problem, but I think it starts with parenting, for example, using food as a reward, mommy and daddy eating junk in front of junior, then giving just a little bit and so on....it's a terrible cycle, and unfortunately, to have sex and have a child you don't need any knowledge of ANYTHING (except penis insertion into vagina), let alone nutrition.

    I saw a woman in the store the other day tell her three-year-old small girl, "Do you want to get beat?"

    And we wonder why our kids grow up violently.

    I know once kids reach school-age if they go to public as opposed to home-schooled, they are subjected to other people's bad habits, but in general, I think this is a parenting issue. It's easy to give your child junk to supposedly "shut them up" but no one thinks about nutrition/growth/brain development.

    If I have children, they're going to eat nutrients, not just something that can be passed off as "food."

  • superfood2superfood2 Raw Newbie

    And I don't like the term "skinny" at all. Desiring to be healthy is a good thing, IMO. Desiring to be "skinny"? Well, I know people who are skinny and they don't like it one bit. I've been called "skinny" and I quarrel with anyone who attempts to call me that.

  • LaEnsaladaLaEnsalada Raw Newbie

    When I was a young kid I was never exposed to junk or rewarded with sweets. I grew up liking healthy food. I have never liked junk food or even sweets that much. My sister, who is 6 years younger, was raised completely the opposite. She has a very different personality type that is very hard to control, so my parents often resorted to rewarding good behavior with chocolate, candy etc. Now her diet consists of mostly ice cream and things made with white flour, she refuses to eat fruit and veggies. So I definitely agree with superfood that this problem is due to parenting. I feel guilty knowing that my sister did not have the same opportunity as me to have a healthy diet and lifestyle.

  • ras-saadonras-saadon Raw Newbie

    Being called "skinny" is exactly the same in my opinion as being called "fat", I've been "skinny", and so have the rest of my family, for all of my life and it used to really get to me when people called me that, it also caused me to spend hours upon hours upon hours at the gym weight lifting trying to "pump up" and unless I was already conscious about health and nutrition at that time I have no doubt what so ever that I would have taken horrible stuff like whey powders, creatine and other nasty stuff, which is exactly all my other "skinny" friends did, fortunately I'm pretty much over it, but people do need to realize that boys are also under lots of pressure to look all masculine and buffed up, just as girls are under pressure to look like "super models", I think obese people should be encouraged to lose weight in order to live a healthy life and not in order to by thinner, but certainly shouldn't be told thats its ok to be obese, because its not, its a death risk..

  • Hmmm...just some thoughts brought on by other's posts. I agree with Ras-saadon. It isn't just girls. And, I do believe that people have different builds. Some people are slender by nature. Though I wouldn't normally think about calling someone skinny as being an insult- but he is right. Just as some girls are more curvy, some guys have a more slender build. I have a 9 yr old, and I am trying to encourage her to eat healthy (I should have started younger:-( But, in our house, we do not call people fat. I find that insulting, and I don't think it's right to make fun of people for being overweight. Yes, carrying too much weight isn't good for you. But, neither is not exercising, not getting enough sleep, worrying, not getting a little time outside in the sun.....

    I'm going to encourage my daughter to be healthy (she's good about sleeping, playing outside, just not so big on the fresh fruits and veggies). NOT to be a certain weight. Her body can find that on it's own if she lives health. Personally, I've found overweight to be the "politically correct"attribute to pick on these days (we're doing it for their health so it's okay to be rude to them mentality).

  • joannabananajoannabanana Raw Newbie

    I think beauty comes in all different forms. There's no right or wrong weight, in my opinion. If you want to be skinny, fine- be skinny. If you want to be fat, go ahead. As long as you're happy with yourself, outside pressures shouldn't matter.

    Also, it's really important just to be happy as you are. If kids are taught to love themselves, they will want to take care of their body. Just because an overweight girl loses 20 lbs doesn't mean she will love her new body more than her old body. It's about loving the inside first. I mean, self-esteem doesn't just come from looks.

  • superfood2superfood2 Raw Newbie

    That's so true about self-esteem. I've seen "overweight" people with better attitudes than people that have society's view of a nice body.

  • That is def. true. If you dont love yourself, it doesnt matter what you look like.

    Last night, I was sitting with My daughter eating dinner. We had a huge salad. (she loves fruits and veggies- more than me i think!) And after this post i felt the need to discuss with her "Healthy Eating" as opposed to "Junk Food Eating". I think after that conversation, it def. has to do with how the parents raise them and how they are fed at home. My daughter told me that eating Junk makes you sick and weak, and although she enjoys cookies and ice pops, she knows she should only have it once in a while, and doesnt know why her friends at school dont like fruit or broccoli (her fave). She is only 5. I think its sad that alot of people complain about the epidemic of obesity and even the above story, yet they are the ones that arent feeding there children proper nutrition. Either it is a way of praise or a muzzle to shut them up from whining. The only people that can turn this epidemic around are people. and of course if the damn media would go back and focus on how Marilyn Monroe was a sex symbol and a size 12, instead of headlines that Lindsey Lohan now weighs 85 lbs.

  • LuLushka8- what was the documentary called? I run a holistic health counseling business and I target young female, especially cheerleaders. It's so important to address all of these issues with them and educate them to put their health in their own hands and feel conformable.

    I would really appreciate if anyone could post some articles, information, and documentary on this topic.

    Love and Light!!


  • The problem I have with this post is that obesity and self-esteem are personal. To me it means that unless you have the right to say something (spouse, parent, etc), then stay out of it.

    Perhaps I'm more emotional than I should be at times, but my whole family is over-weight and I have experienced the pain it causes first-hand. As some of us know, it takes a lot of effort to lose weight; especially when you are emotionally down about yourself because of a weight gain. This is a very personal issue to each individual and it should be left there. We cannot judge because one is overweight or one has low self esteem.

    While there ARE things we can do; let's not over-do it by judgments or being a little too-pushy in someone's unhealthy lifestyle. I believe it's best to be content in just being who YOU are. The raw food lifestyle speaks volumes. Many overweight and obese individuals are already in pain; and verbal encouragement to lose weight doesn't serve as encouragement; but rather increase their pain and tendency to eat more.

    And remember, cooked food is ADDICTIVE!! We wonder why obesity is growing so quickly! I'm still addicted to cooked food, and I'm not as raw as I want to be. Definitely add me on to this list of over-weight and low self-esteem. It's a personal problem that people get through in time. Just give it time. Knowledge of raw food is growing. Just let it grow.

  • SuasoriaSuasoria Raw Newbie

    I think I know what you're saying - and since we're talking about children for the most part, I agree that it's largely about how the parents deal with it and perhaps schools to a far lesser extent.

    But like a lot of health problems, obesity is quickly becoming a social problem because of the costs to our healthcare system - just like smoking, and most of us have no problems judging smokers. At some point, we do have to stand up as a society and "judge" in the sense of saying obesity is a problem, and health needs to be a bigger priority.

  • Amen.

    I believe healthy people should publically speak up; but never to target a specific group. And I believe raw-fooders are doing a great job in this.

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