So it’s OK to wear your preschooler’s PJs?

Bethenny Frankel wore her 4-year-old daughter’s Hello Kitty jammies, took a picture, and posted it on Instagram for the world to see.

Thanks, Bethenny Frankel. You’ve just dug the “thin is in” hole a little bit deeper. Your move does nothing to help women or young girls collectively overcome the unrealistic demands of beauty or thinness. Or the pressures on women and girls to literally, “fit in.”

Here are a few thoughts as a childhood nutrition expert and a mom of girls:

I have had a 6-year-old ask me if I thought she was fat.

(Forty to sixty percent of elementary girls are concerned about their weight or becoming too fat.)

I have had an 8-year-old tell me she was fat (she wasn’t)…and was going to do something about it.

(Forty-two percent of first through third grade girls want to be thinner. Forty-six percent of 9-11 year olds girls are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.)

I have had a teen tell me she was ashamed that she was “bigger than her mom.”

(Over half of all teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, or vomiting to lose weight or control their weight.)

And I have had countless interactions with girls of all ages who were either too heavy or too thin. And one thing they all had in common: they were ashamed of the body they lived in.

As a mom, I have teenage girls who look in the mirror, shifting front profile to side profile, checking, smoothing, and double-checking again.

(Each decade, there is a rise in the incidence of eating disorders.)

My daughters have asked if they were too heavy (they weren’t).

(Body dissatisfaction is the best-known contributor to an eating disorder.)

I’ve been asked, “How much should I weigh?”

(The concern about weight felt in the elementary years endures throughout life.)

And, by my girls’ friends, I’ve been asked, “I need to lose weight—tell me how.”

(Eating disorders know no color and show equal representation among ethnic groups; however, anorexia is more common among non-Hispanic whites.)

In growing girls, there is a constant need for reassurance and validation, especially when it comes to appearance and body weight.

Pictures of a grown woman in her preschooler’s pajamas set a new standard, a new bottom line for acceptance and validation among girls and women. One that undermines my work as a dietitian and a mom, and underscores the “thin is in” ideal.

(Forty-seven percent of elementary girls who read magazines say the pictures make them want to lose weight.)

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks for perpetuating a silly standard for women. My job is secure as a nutrition professional and harder as a mom.

Tell me, do you think it’s OK to wear your preschooler’s pajamas?

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About Jill Castle, Bundoo Pediatric Nutritionist

Jill Castle is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and childhood nutrition expert. She is co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School.

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