Brooke Burke-Charvet told People that she won’t say the words “fat” or “diet” around her children. That may seem like an extreme approach to parenting in hopes of a healthy body image, but I think it’s an admirable way to set an example for kids.
I try to never use words like ‘fat’ or ‘diet.’ I try to choose my words carefully with my kids. It’s just about making good choices and enjoying what we eat and making delicious flavorful foods that are healthy. I’m just teaching them about being healthy and strong, not about being thin.
When people say that children are “little sponges,” they’re right. I’m not a parent, but I’ve worked in childcare for many, many years and I can’t count the number of times that children have repeated things I’ve said when I had no idea they were listening. Because they’re always, always listening. Brooke’s choice to be mindful about the words she uses in relation to eating and weight is smart, responsible, and commendable.
After all, Brooke’s four children (ranging in age from age 12 to age 4) are going to get harmful, negative messages about body image elsewhere, so why shouldn’t she set a positive precedent with her own words and behavior? There’s almost no way to avoid ideas about “being fat” and “dieting” in our media-saturated culture: there’s magazine covers at the grocery store that call celebrities out for gaining a few pounds, there’s the persistent stereotype of the undesirable yet funny fat girl (just look at the movie Bridesmaids), there’s talk shows and reality shows devoted to making “fat” people look better and lose weight. Eating disorders among children are on the rise, to the tune of an insane 119% between 1996 and 2006. In America today, children learn that being fat is bad.
So if Brooke can foster a healthy relationship with food and eating inside her home, all the better. Family behaviors can contribute to both obesity and to eating disorders, say experts, so setting a healthy example is key. Brooke also said:
I always tell other parents to lead by example. My kids know I’m always working out and I love to cook. I’m always preparing healthy meals. I think it’s also about giving them healthy options, which is so, so important.
Brooke also seems to have a healthy relationship with her own body image (and workout routine), something I’m sure that her children notice. Her kids are lucky to have a mom who prioritizes and models a healthy, achievable, realistic lifestyle. Can we somehow bottle Brooke Burke up and distribute her healthy attitude to the rest of the nation (namely, the media)? We have a lot to learn from her.