Dear Son,

Time has gone so quickly since you were born, and you amaze me everyday with your curiosity of this world. You have a lot of questions, and I don’t always have the answers. Even so, I hope that we will always discuss the difficult topics. It appears your body size is already a difficult topic, even at your young age of just four years old. We talk to girls about their feelings towards their bodies. We can’t forget to include you and all genders.

I am trying to raise you with weight-neutral beliefs; and help you gain appreciation for all body types and sizes. I want you to understand that all bodies are different but equal. All bodies deserve respect and the same level of appreciation.

It’s not easy to have weight-neutral beliefs in a world that views smaller bodies differently than larger bodies; in a world where we fear being a certain size or have negative experiences because of our body size. Our culture doesn’t make it easy to show how fat we are or to appreciate all foods.

We’ve already heard from others how “big you are for your age” or “your belly is too big”. I’ve had to stop myself from over-reacting about these comments and instead try to help adjust their beliefs about your body.

It’s something that I have thought about too. My recovery from anorexia nervosa makes me even more aware of how difficult this world can be when you look and eat a certain way. I also see how similar you look to my father, a wonderful man who has a lot of love to give. Yet he has struggled with how he looks and how fat he is his entire life. Your body similarities scare me. Does that mean you will struggle with accepting your body shape and size in the same way he did? Will you be able to develop an appreciation for how fast you can run or how strong your body is and not worry about being a certain weight? Will you appreciate all foods for what they are and develop a healthy relationship with food?

It’s not okay to hate your body and abuse it with a tirade of thoughts. Fashion glorifies having muscles and defined abs. Male mannequins even display muscles and when they don’t, even a fat mannequin gets shamed for not going to the gym and for being a larger size.

I can’t control what size jeans you’re going to end up wearing. But I can have an impact on how you feel about it. That’s my goal: to help you develop an appreciation for all body shapes and sizes and to offer you a small bit of protection against any eating disorder genes I may have passed down to you.

My goal is to provide an environment of acceptance and self-love, rather than one of judgement and fat-talk. I want you to have a fighting chance against diets and the self-hate that comes with trying to be a certain size.

I want you to know that I love you, all of you. I love you, whether you’re fat, thin, or are a certain weight. I want you to love all of yourself, too. I want you to eat in a way that brings you long-term joy and health. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy riding your bike because you think it’s fun. Don’t let your size stop you from doing the things you love. 

You’re a wonderful, loving little boy. You’re kind, funny, and unique. You will always be those things to me. I hope if you ever doubt yourself, you’ll look in the mirror and remember I love that boy in the mirror.