Virginia Sole-Smith Urges Parents To Have The “Fat Talk” With Their Children

In her new book “Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture,” which was released on April 25th, Virginia Sole-Smith advocates for parents to talk about fat with their children. However, her approach does not involve calorie counting or label reading. Instead, she encourages parents to take the opposite direction.

She said, “We’re dealing with systemic culture-wide oppression of fat people and all the ways that ripple out and show up in our daily lives. And so we have to name that bias.”

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Sole-Smith suggests having honest conversations with kids about what it means to be fat and why it has a negative connotation in America. She emphasizes the importance of addressing biases and harmful effects on relationships and public spaces. She shares some key takeaways from her exploration of the connection between anti-fat discrimination and parenting.

Enjoying Food Is Okay

Sole-Smith says parents have lost sight of the joy of food and teaching kids to enjoy it. Controlling food intake to the point of anxiety can cause food issues for children. The problem is the way parents intertwine morality with food choices. Food can be a source of comfort, and there’s nothing wrong with providing comfort to kids through food. Sole-Smith shares a personal example of making hot chocolate with her child before bed. Removing stress and stigma around food choices allows for better connections with kids.

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There Is Grace For Parents As Well

Parents raised in diet culture and currently raising their children in the same environment may not be perfect. Even Sole-Smith admits to subscribing to outdated and harmful ways of thinking. COVID-19 has caused collective trauma for American parents, resulting in changes to family routines and patterns. Celebratory food can bring small joys during difficult times and can be a positive parenting choice.