If you think that everyone with a high weight puts a strong focus on it, you’d be wrong. Yes, of course, society—from media to medicine—is obsessed with thinness. But, much of what we put our attention on in life is what our parents taught us is important. In reality, it may or not be. Only we can decide as adults what we want to spotlight.
Here are some fictional examples of what families may focus on:
- Parental Unit A loves nature and animals. Their idea of a stellar day is to traipse through deep woods identifying fauna and flora and to travel extensively to see the natural wonders of the world. What’s important to them is volunteering at a local animal rescue center and spending as much time as they can hiking. Their children receive high praise for their kindness to animals and for their knowledge of the natural world.
- Parental Unit B is highly involved in the art world. Mom is a sculptress and Dad runs a gallery in New York City. They see everything through an artistic eye—décor and clothes included. They frequently comment on what their children and other people are wearing and are, themselves, very fashion conscious. They can’t imagine why everyone else in the world doesn’t view style with importance.
- Parental Unit C values knowledge. How smart you are and getting the right answers are singularly prized in the family. Top grades get their children high praise and they are all expected to go to college. Homework is checked every night and children are encouraged to use their free time reading and learning.
- Parental Unit C is all about sports and keeping healthy. They let the kids skip school to take them skiing or to see the World Series. Both parents watch their weight, eat only organic food, and love to make fabulous meals together. They encourage their children to use the backyard garden to grow vegetables for the family to eat.
- Parental Unit D values family time. Each parent is close with his or her own parents and siblings. Holiday dinners are large, festive gatherings and often the siblings vacation together. Their children are close with their cousins. Friends are considered second tier, because nothing is more highly valued than blood relatives though this approach isolates the extended family from the larger community.
Can you see how the children in each family would be raised to think that what their family focused on is more important than anything else: art, healthy food, sports, knowledge, family, etc. What did your family value above all else? What was second most important? What received little attention that is important to live well? Recognize that not every family values appearance or weight. This is a chosen value, not of fixed importance. If you feel you overvalue looks and weight, you can change that view. As adults, we get to pick what’s important to us, even if it flies in the face family beliefs.