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Fathers, Daughters, and Eating
96 Bodies You Won't See On Billboards -- But Should
Related Issue: Eating Disorders for Men
Fathers, Daughters, and Eating
A quick scan revealed scores of magazines showing 110 lb. women with giant busts, along with ones showing alien babies, who were plotting to take over the world.
In my younger years, I might have picked up a few of these glamour magazines and perused the pages. But it was different now. I was at the store with my nine-year-old daughter, and she was looking at the shelves, too.
We have an epidemic of eating disorders in this country. And during National Eating Disorder Awareness week, its important to examine what kind of impact these disorders are having in our country today. Here are some statistics:
About 5,000,000 people in the US, most of them teenage girls, have anorexia. One in 10 die of it, half from suicide, and half from medical complications related to the anorexia.
In 1970, the average age a girl started dieting in the US was 14. By 1990, the average dieting age had fallen to 8.
In one study, young girls in the US who were surveyed were more afraid of becoming fat than they were of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.
The average US woman is 5'4" and weighs 140 lbs. The average US model is 5'11" and weighs 117 lbs.
2 out of 5 women, and 1 out of 5 men would give 3-5 years of their life to achieve their weight goals.
I no longer have an interest in looking at magazines with emaciated models. I no longer show interest in conversations with men whom objectify women. As my daughter grows older, she looks around at the world weve created.
Our failures are everywhere.
And as we live our own busy lives, we see these failures yet stay silent. We plow ahead, hoping things will change, and fearing they wont.
And while our culture is not the only culprit in the eating disorder epidemic in this country, it certainly stokes the fire. It stokes the fire in those girls who lack the positive self-image to withstand the barrage of images and judgments that rain down every day. For girls, theres no escaping this barrage. It happens in the looks and comments they get when they walk down the hall at school. It happens when they turn on the radio or TV. It surrounds them, convincing many that slim and sexy is the Holy Grail of their existence.
Our daughters need our help. They can no longer afford our silence. Here are some ideas for fathers that may help to turn the tide:
Examine your own attitude and feelings toward women. How have you objectified women in the past? Are you ready to see them as equal? Make sure youre clear on these questions, because theyll come up eventually with your daughter.
Find out if there are sexist influences in your daughters life that you can impact. Ask about the philosophy and practices of her coaches, teachers, and others who spend time with her. One influential person can do a great deal of good, or a great deal of damage.
Anything positive you do can be washed away by a single comment about her appearance, or the way you look at another woman. Your daughter is watching you closely. Tell her shes beautiful, no matter what she looks like.
Find out the names of advertisers who put out garbage commercials or products that attempt to convince young girls to be slimmer, etc. Youd be surprised at how many ads have been pulled because concerned parents took action.
Stay connected to your daughter, no matter how much shes struggling. And when she reaches puberty and her body changes, find a way to continue to stay close. Too many fathers abandon their daughters emotionally when their daughters need them the most.
Just because an unhealthy environment surrounds us doesnt mean its good for our daughters. The statistics on eating disorders show this beyond the shadow of a doubt.
If fathers dont act now in their daughters behalf, others will act for them.
The results so far have not been promising.
© 2006, Mark Brandenburg
Mark has a Masters degree in counseling psychology and has been a counselor, business consultant, sports counselor, and a certified life and business coach. He has worked with individuals, teams, and businesses to improve their performance for over 20 years. Prior to life and business coaching Mark was a world-ranked professional tennis player and has coached other world-ranked athletes. He has helped hundreds of individuals to implement his coaching techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to balance their lives and to improve the important relationships in their lives. He is the author of the popular e-books, 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers , and Fix Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself at the Same Time ). Mark is also the publisher of the Dads Dont Fix your Kids ezine for fathers. To sign up, go to www.markbrandenburg.com or email him at:firstname.lastname@example.org.