Picture this: Rachel is looking at herself in the mirror, wondering if her bum looks too big.
She’s four, and last week she heard dad say to mum that chick from The Bachelor was looking “a little porky”.
It was while he was scrolling through Instagram, about to head to the gym to “work off last night’s dessert”.
When Rachel asks dad if she’s getting fat, he’s stunned. Where on Earth did she get that idea?
She’s not on social media, her Peppa Pig obsession means she watches nothing else, and her dad tells her she’s beautiful all the time.
It’s a scenario you can imagine playing out in many Australian households — even parents with the best intentions can accidentally promote unhealthy body image.
And despite men being equally influential as women when it comes to raising body-positive kids, it’s a minefield that can be hard for dads to navigate.
ABC Life reached out to a body positivity expert, child psychologist and some woke dads who are conscious about how to help their sons and daughters feel confident in their own skin.
What they shared are some simple strategies any dad can take on board.
Watch what you say about others — and yourself
Body Positive Australia director Sarah Harry says kids start to notice a “more socially acceptable body” from the age of three.
Ms Harry says men embracing diversity in other people’s body shapes, as well as their own, sends a clear message.
Rik Schnabel, dad of two teenage girls, says he never speaks negatively about other people, especially when it comes to weight.
“I treat everybody like they’re a gift to the Earth and … I think this attitude and this one powerful strategy has helped my girls to no end.”
But it’s not just negative remarks that cause harm — what you think is praise is often objectification.
Child psychologist from The Quirky Kid Clinic Kimberley O’Brien says men might consider it harmless to comment on a good-looking actress, for example, but reinforcing those stereotypes causes children to make comparisons to their own bodies.
Ms Harry says parents should never make negative comments about their own body, and to refer to its abilities rather than its appearance.
“I say things to my kids like, ‘My body is so strong’,” she says.
– Kellie Scott
Image source – Flickr.com