You've heard the old saying, you can never be too rich or too thin. From diet pill to Spanx to treatments that promise to make you healthier and younger, the pressure to make ourselves more attractive is all around us.
While the burden's nothing new, it's hitting harder than ever.
This pressure to be perfect comes from all directions including billboards, online, even within our circles of
friends. The number one influence is even closer that all of those.
When asked to describe herself, third grader Ella will tell you, "Different in a good way, artistic, energetic, athletic, great, amazing, awesome."
All beautiful words, but her mom will tell you, getting her here has been a journey.
"Focusing on any kind of body image issue can be extremely devastating," said Marshanda Pinchok.
Marshanda never imagined her daughter would be worrying about her body at just 8 years old.
"I tried to handle her emotions first and validate them and just take some time to talk about all of the positive things," said Pinchok.
She contributes a huge part of Ella's transformation to Girls on the Run.
"We try to shift the focus to what's beautiful on the inside and how we're all unique and we can all bring something beautiful to the table, and it's not necessarily focusing on the outside of the individual," said Girls on the Run coach Kelly Eldridge.
Pair that with an extra dose of fun and fitness. The result is some of the smartest young ladies I've ever met.
"Think of yourself as a piece of pizza. You're thinking of yourself as plain ol' cheese, but for me, my favorite is meat lovers. So try to think of yourself as your favorite pizza and you just love it, and you want to eat it all up," said third grader Sophie Dotson.
"I like my body a lot because nobody else looks like me, I'm an individual," said third grader Emily Hayes.
Their wise words are a triumph in a world filled with images of the "ideal woman."
For years we've blamed media including airbrushed models on magazine covers and stick thin actresses on TV. However, now researchers say the number one influence on teens and tweens hits much closer to home. It's all about mom.
When it comes to influence, experts at the Mayo Clinic say a same sex parent trumps everything.
It's something Stacey Shelton and Sky Goldman know well. Sky remembers being called fat at only 8 years old.
"I came home to my mom, and I was like, I don't want to be fat anymore. So I was going to diet. And I made this thing up where I had to eat really healthy from Monday through Thursday and on Friday I could eat unhealthy. I called it fat Friday," said Sky Goldman.
Sky said she was just following mom's lead.
"I always encouraged Skylar to feel good about herself, told her she was beautiful, but like she said, I was always on a diet, always working out and so I think that affected her without me even being aware of it," said Stacey Shelton
"That's what I grew up with. That's what I watched," said Goldman.
Now they rely on each other to tackle a more balanced approach. But they both admit, it's never easy.
"It's still in your head that I want to look like the girl in People," said Goldman.
It's something these little ones' moms already realize.
"I try to be very mindful about what I say about myself. I try not to speak of myself in any negative way, whether it's, 'oh these jeans are too tight' or 'my clothes aren't fitting today' or 'I feel a little big.' Even if those thoughts go through my mind, I'm just very careful not to say them," said Pinchok.
So their girls will always remember this important message.
"I'm good the way I am, and I don't need to change myself... even if I start getting wrinkles," said Ella.
Experts say the best thing you can do is stick to zero talk about dieting, weight or even other people's weight. Instead, make the focus a healthy family lifestyle.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.