About the “F” Word: Taking “Fat” Out of Your Teen’s Vocabulary


Deciphering the difference in physical form is part of development in young children. Baby toys with different shapes are cognitive tools for helping children begin to create a greater encyclopedia of knowledge in their minds. Fitting the triangle toy into the triangle shape hole, the square to its proper place, and the circle to its own as well are not idle tasks for a baby to participate in. These activities help develop their cognitive function for surviving in the world. As babies develop, differences in shape, size, and color start to take on different meaning. People, for example, are no longer simply other beings like themselves, walking and talking. Due to the cues they pick up from society and most importantly, what they hear from their parents, young children begin to see black and white, beige and brown, ugly and beautiful, as well as skinny and fat.

As soon as three years old, small children can notice difference in body shape and size. By five years old, children are becoming more in tune with culture, learning to make the same associations the world around them does. For example, small girls are aware that some little girls are pretty and that being pretty garners certain attention. Most children start to learn the difference between being big and small, thin and fat, and what being each of those things mean, like, being fat might mean being unhealthy, lazy, or not a good person.

Body image and eating disorders are not a concern only for adolescents and simultaneously insecure as well as self-obsessed. Brisbane Times reports that in Australia where one out of every 24 adults struggle with an eating disorder, children as young as seven are being hospitalized for eating disorders and body image issues. Seven is simply too young to have any kind of awareness that there is a harmful dichotomy when it comes to the body and how that body is regarded in society.

Professionals advocate that in addition to all the other lessons young children need to learn, lessons about body positivity and body acceptance are now more important than ever. One of the most effective ways to create body positive conversation in the household is by eliminating “fat talk”. “‘Fat talk is when people criticise their own or other people’s bodies, including celebrities’ bodies,” the article explains. “It can add to the pressure to be thin and help drive body dissatisfaction.”

Fat talk may already be present in your adolescent’s daily life due to talk at school and interactions on social media. If you notice an emphasis on comparing body types, describing people primarily by their body, comparing one’s body to someone else’s, or perceiving value based on physical appearance, it is important to talk with your adolescent. Eating disorders have the highest rate of death among any mental illness and can lead to substance abuse to cope with difficult emotions as well as control weight.


Stonewater focuses on helping clients build a foundation of faith, hope, and trust, learning that they were made with a unique plan and purpose. Our residential treatment programs for adolescent addiction bring the family together for healing of mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for more information at 662-598-4214.