Fathers, Daughters, and Eating Disorders
There they were, staring at us from the shelves of
the grocery check-out line.
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 (February 27 -
March 5), 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
The average US woman is 5'4" and weighs
140 lbs. The average US model is 5'11" and weighs
2 out of 5 women, and 1 out of 5 men
would give 3-5 years of their life to achieve their
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
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
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
The results so far have not been promising.
© 2010 Mark
Other Father Issues,
* * *
To this day I can remember my father's
voice, singing over me in the stillness of the
night. - Carl G. Jung
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
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
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