Weighing Myself in Front of My Daughter Won't Make Her Anorexic

scaleI see my daughter do it just as she's watched me do it so many times. She taps the digital bathroom scale with her 4-year-old toes, waiting for the numbers to light up and hit zero; she knows stepping on too soon will result in an error. Then she steps up, looks at the numbers, and asks, "How much do I weigh, mommy?"

I read the number to her and tell her it's the perfect amount for her age. Then I try to distract her while I do the same without letting her see the tension or joy on my face when my number appears.

Some would say this isn't healthy, damaging even. Model Isla Fisher recently told Fitness magazine that she doesn't even own a scale, and that she doesn't ever want her two daughters, Olive, 5 1/2, and Elula, 2 1/2, to see her weighing herself. "I don't think it sends the right message." 

I have often wondered what messages my daily ritual of weighing myself sends to my daughter. I hope it's one that says managing our weight is managing our health. We check our blood pressure with no worries about scarring our kids for life, so a scale shouldn't be any different? Oh it can be, I know, but I don't believe it has to be.

To me it says that maintaining a healthy body is a priority for me, and that it's something I work at. Because the truth is that if I don't make it a priority, it creeps up and up. The scale keeps me accountable, and I don't think that has to be a taboo. I try never to use the 'f' word, but fat is real, and it's something we should fight. Of course there are extremes, and I worry about eating disorders just like any other mother of a daughter, but it don't think scales are the problem.

At just 4 years old, I hope that my daughter doesn't have to worry about her weight for many years to come. I hope that with healthy eating and exercising (which she sees me embrace as well), she's able to stay fit and healthy, but it's not always easy, as we see by the obesity epidemic in this country. Some are blessed genetically, but most of us do have to make a daily effort to be fit. To pretend that we don't or to cover it up when we do helps no one.

I don't want her or my son to be obsessed with their weight by any means, but I do want them to be conscious of it as part of their overall health, and a scale is one way to monitor that. No, the numbers don't tell you everything about someone's health, but they definitely provide some insight and accountability. 

Is my relationship with the scale always healthy? No, probably not, but it has helped me keep my weight at a healthy level for years, and it's not something I plan to give up anytime soon.

Do you weight yourself in front of your kids? Do you think it sends the wrong message?


Image via minitrue/Flickr

a mom's life, girls, nutrition


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Cel7777 Cel7777

I don't think that weighing yourself in front of your kid is necessarily a bad thing, but I do think doing it daily seems obsessive. Most experts don't recommend weighing yourself daily, as things like water retention, how much you ate the day prior, if you've passed what you ate the day prior, hormonal fluctuations, etc., can all change the number on the scale. That aside, weighing yourself daily is actually pointless; it's nearly impossible to gain or lose a pound of fat (3,500 calories) in one day. Anything more or less than a pound--on a day to day basis--- is trivial and shouldn't be taken seriously. Weighing yourself once a week is enough to not allow weight gain to "sneak up" on you, but not so much that it turns you into an obsessive person who freaks out because she weighs 4oz more than yesterday.

If you're trying to send the message to your daughter that it is indeed about health, then I think it's important to model other healthy behaviors necessary in monitoring of your health. Keep her involved and informed of these measures. You say it's analgous to keeping your blood pressure in check---do you monitor that daily as well? Do you make good choices about food, exercise, etc., and make her aware of why? If you claim weighing is only a health thing, but don't show her other ways you are invested in your overall well-being, eventually she will probably think it's b.s. 

bella... bellacazzate

My mother was/is overweight and obsessively weighed herself everyday. She was always on a "diet" or trying to "be good" -- something that never lasted more than a day. She commented on the thinness of fatness of everyone on magazine covers, tv, movies, etc. Never did she talk to me directly about dieting and she always encouraged me to eat what I wanted and play and get involved in sports. (When I was 7 and shedding the last of my "baby fat" my grandmother told me I needed to lose weight -- my mother immediately dragged me away and said "Do not listen to that woman. There is NOTHING wrong with you.") It was her personal struggle, but it absolutely cast a shadow. 

From an early age (5 or 6), I kept a chart of how much I weighed, because it was what my mother did. I fretted when the numbers went up, because it's what she did. I don't know if this was predisposed or if it was a direct result of growing up with my mother's obsession. And this was all quite ridiculous as I am very petite and have never been even close to being overweight. At 27, I fit into freshman year clothing. I eat healthy 90% of the time because I enjoy it; I exercise because I enjoy it; I never weigh myself. It's torture and you don't need to and you're only perpetuating the myth if you think you do. There are many other indicators of gaining weight. And hell, there's a good chance you don't even know what healthy body weight actually is... it's a huge, subjective spectrum. 


bella... bellacazzate

It took me a long, long time to be at peace with my body -- and there was nothing wrong with it to begin with. You don't know if they'll be obsessive about body weight, just like my mother didn't know I was. I honestly wouldn't even risk it. Save them the anxiety and let them bring it upon themselves. 

Tripl... TripleC14

Weighing yourself daily is obsessive and unhealthy. So while the owning of a scale isn't itself problematic to your daughter, your obvious issues around your weight are likely coming across.

CrazyAZ CrazyAZ

I weigh myself daily. I know my BP, cholesterol, triglycerides and red blood cell counts because I have them checked regularly too. I'm obsessive about feeding myself with the healthiest foods available and ensuring that I get exercise regularly. I have a daughter and a son. I hope that they both grow up to be healthy adults rather than end up like most of my peers who over-drink, pour sugars down their gullets and think walking to Dairy Queen is exercise.

We talk about nutrition at my house, not "dieting". We let our children be a part of meal preparation and grocery shopping. We discuss how different foods help our bodies to fight colds, heal bruises, strengthen our brains and organs. We talk about children needing more fats and carbohydrates due to the fact that they are still growing a brain and a body.This should be happening in every home.

Bryanne Peterson

You compare weighing yourself to taking your blood pressure- is this something you also monitor daily in front of your children- or is it something relegated to when you go to the doctors office? Also, the "faces" you try to hide seem more concerning to me than the fact you own a scale. What numbers make you "happy?" Is this based on health information from your doctor or societal pressure to be at a certain size? And finally, are you starting to discuss these health pieces with your daughter as part of the ritual? THESE are the questions I would need answered to give a real opinion on whether you're sending "the wrong message."

PonyC... PonyChaser

Weighing yourself every day isn't even a bad thing; some people do it to find trends - menstrual weight gain, for example. But the "tension" or the "happy face" is concerning. Using phrases like "the F word" is concerning. Fat is not a disease. Fat is not bad. Fat is a condition of the human body, just like thin is. Fat is necessary for your body to function. Too little, and you are malnourished and have a host of problems. Contrary to popular belief, there are many people who are very healthy and have a decent amount of fat on their bodies. Being "overweight" does not automatically mean that you are going to die tomorrow and need to be buried in a piano box.

In this case, it's the attitude toward being fat, and the obvious phobia that you have about it, not the actual fat that is the issue.

Melan... MelanieJK

You don't need a scale to tell you if you're eatng healthy and staying active.     If you're jumping on the scale constantly it's likely to find out if you're getting away with what you know to be unhealthy eating or lack of excercise.    You're not,  no matter what your daily weigh in tells you.    

B1Bomber B1Bomber

Girls take their self-esteem cues from two main factors - their relationships with their fathers and their mothers' self-esteem. If you are constantly worried about your weight/looks, she will grow up thinking the same way, no matter how often you say she's beautiful. Your actions drown out your words.

MammaSam MammaSam

I recently started a gym membership and my daughter goes to the childcare there. She knows what mommy is doing, but she doesn't see it and I don't explain it fully to her. she is only two and a half so there's not much point and I don't want to send her the wrong (correct lol) message. I weigh myself before I go get her. I thought about buying a scale but decided I don't care. once i lose all this baby weight, I don't plan on weighing. I'm only concerned with weight now bc I want to get back to a healthy level. Once I am to a healthy weight, and my appetite is under control, I plan to return to normal life. There's no reason I should obsess about weight if I look good and feel healthy. As of now I have goal losses. I'm 170 when my healthy weight is 120. I'm really short so it shows badly. Lol. Anyways, I don't see the need to have one in my home, and I think that sends a goodf message. Home is a place where I am comfortable with myself bc the people around me accept me for who I am. The gym is a place I go to reach my personal goals and have fun with my partner and family. (Swimming, hot tub, work out) for her its a place she goes to Olay with New friends.

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