Promoting Health Instead of Size: Teaching Children to Care for not Compare Their Bodies

SMEDA focuses significant efforts to improve treatment and public awareness of eating disorders. Yet prevention of eating disorders is our ultimate goal. Our current weight-based criteria for health results in poor self image and decreases motivation for health-promoting behaviors. To prevent eating disorders, we must begin to recognize the myths our culture perpetuates that put our youth at risk.

This series of newsletters will be through the lens of Kathy Kater’s “Healthy Bodies” curriculum.

Myth #1: The “right size” is essential...for everything
Our current culture is very unforgiving to those who don’t come in the right package. The right hair, the right skin color, the right size. When did our intrinsic human qualities become trumped by what we look like on the out- side? And why have allowed this to be taught to our children at such a young age? Body dissatisfaction is not a good motivator for health promoting behavior. In fact, it accomplishes just the opposite. We need to teach our youth to stop comparing themselves to external standards of appearance, and start caring for and about the bodies they were born with.

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