One mother is outlawing the “F” word in front of her daughters. However, in this case, the “F” stands for “fat,” and this mother, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, 46, of Encino, Calif., says people talking about weight issues in her daughters’ presence is damaging to their self-esteem.
When a summer camp counselor used the “F” word, “fat,” on Wilder-Taylor’s then 5-year-year old child, she was unnerved by her daughter’s reaction.
“‘Mommy, I can’t drink soda because drinking soda gives you a fat tummy,’” Wilder-Taylor told ABC News of her daughter’s response. “I was horrified. They are too young to be thinking about dieting or whether they are too fat or too thin.”
Wilder-Taylor, an outspoken author and comedian, made a rule to not allow the “F” word to be used by anyone in her house, and wrote a blog sounding the alarm for adults that children listen to what grownups say very carefully.
“Let’s not talk about self-hating our bodies in front of my kids,” said Wilder-Taylor. “I’ve got three young girls here and impressionable.”
Instead, Wilder-Taylor likes to dance with her girls to show that women of all shapes and sizes should strut their stuff proudly.
“I do little booty shakes in front of my kid’s face,” she said. “I try to let them know that, ‘Yeah, you know, my butt might be a little big, but it’s awesome.’”
Her 500-word blog sparked some outrage, but also a lot of praise from moms trying to keep their daughters (and sons) free of the weight anxiety. Some teens ABC News’ Juju Chang spoke with agreed.
“It would make someone insecure,” said one teen.
And yet, these girls’ owns moms felt differently–that every adult who influences kids has a duty to counteract all that pressure to be thin.
“We as parents give them responsibility to others to help them interpret messages,” one parent said.
“I think, ‘It makes you fat,’ or that kind of stuff should just be left off the table,” said another.
“It’s kind of offensive to the kids,” one mother said. “They should tell them to lower on the soda, but not, ‘Don’t drink soda ever again.’”
Parenting expert Dr. Karyn Gordon appreciates Wilder-Taylor’s efforts, but doesn’t believe it’s a realistic goal.
“I love the mother’s heart in this. She’s got her heart in the right spot. She’s very concerned about how this is impacting her daughters,” Gordon said. “I just don’t know if it’s realistic, in terms of expecting everybody, anybody who comes into her home in terms of certain words that are off limits.
“I think it’s the most important, the number one source of influence for a child in terms of their own body image is actually the parent. How the mother has her own perception of her own body.”