I've blamed my mother for many things in the 24 years I've been alive: my name (I've been one of three Emilys in every job and class), my stubby fingers (inherited from her) and my cat's propensity to whine (my mom spoiled her). The one thing I've never questioned, however, is the way she looks at me.
New research published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders reveals parents may have more to do with their daughters' body images than previously thought. According to a team from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, adult women with poor self-image can usually trace it back to parents who commented on their weight and appearance.
Of the 501 women involved in the study, women with unhealthy BMIs (a scale of health that is admittedly often held up as suspect) were almost 30 percent more likely to recall parents talking about their weights than thinner counterparts. Even so, the women with normal BMIs who remembered parental commentary were also more likely to be unhappy about their appearances. In other words, sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will definitely hurt us.
But, don't text your mom angry devil emojis just yet. Although this research is new, there's a wealth of background to suggest talking to children about health is one of the most challenging obstacles as a parent, especially as the rate of obesity skyrockets in the US for both children and adult women. In fact, the CDC reports it's doubled over the past 30 years.
Aside from body image, immediate health concerns include diabetes and heart health. So, a parent who comments on his or her child's meal could be well intentioned but misguided. According to one survey, parents would rather discuss sex, booze and drugs with their kiddies than anything to do with weight.
Maybe take it easy on Mom (this time).