Recently, Khloé Kardashian has received backlash from a Twitter post; one she also posted to her Instagram. This post shows Khloé’s daughter True, and Kim Kardashian’s daughter, Chicago sitting side by side. The adorable little girls are donned in cute bathing suits while eating bags of Cheetos Puffs and Garden Veggie Straws. Cue the “AW’s!” and the “How adorable!”
However, it was Khloé’s caption that caused a big commotion. Khloé’s caption was an imaginary conversation between True and Chicago. She wrote, “Chi: I heard my mama say vacation calories don’t count. True: Don’t tell me twice, Chi.”— KoKo (@khloekardashian) August 19, 2019.
Although many people thought the caption was a harmless joke, in reality, it wasn’t. This caption introduces little girls to diet culture. It sends them the specific message that they have to count calories and they should cut certain foods out of their diet altogether (like Cheetos Puffs and Garden Veggie Straws) unless they are treating themselves on vacation. Little girls then have to prepare themselves for the inevitable; a lifetime of a negative relationship with food. This is a serious issue.
Khloé’s caption goes beyond diet culture, however. Little girls are surprisingly impressionable and they idolize their mothers. Because of this, little girls carefully listen to every single word their mothers say. Little girls observe every single action their mothers partake in. They then display similar behaviors to that of their mothers. For a mother, these actions are viewed as being mommy’s little girl. Unfortunately, it is not always positive or cute. When it involves dieting, body image, and how these little girls view and talk about their bodies, it is extremely dangerous.
When I was around five or six years old, I began idolizing my mother. I didn’t see her as the “cool mom,” although my friends would constantly obsess over her being so much younger than their parents. I didn’t see her as the smart mom, although I knew she was wildly intelligent. And, I didn’t see her as the funny mom, although she could make me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. Instead, I honed in on my mother’s physical appearance. At five or six years old, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful and thin my mother was. I watched her actions, from exercising every day (twice a day), to dieting (she never ate the meals myself, my siblings, and my father ate), and I watched how she examined herself. And then, I looked at myself.
I was not thin. I found it absolutely astonishing that my mother could fit into one of my jean skirts. This was when my body issues truly began.
Little girls as young as five years old are reported to have a negative relationship with food, participate in diet culture, and are even diagnosed with eating disorders; the term is Pediatric Eating Disorders. Research has shown that some of these little girls undergo this behavior because of what they view and learn from their mothers; similar to what occurred in my life.
I firmly believe that we must stop this. We have to stop spreading the ideology of diet culture to little girls. We have to stop spreading negative thoughts about our bodies. We have to stop spreading behaviors that lead to eating disorders. This needs to be stopped on social media and in-person alike.
Instead, all women, not just mothers, should introduce little girls to positive body talk. We should talk about how we love our bodies as they are. We should call ourselves beautiful. We should praise our bodies for everything they allow us to do. We should do this in front of little girls. In doing so, little girls will develop positive thinking and understand self-love. Little girls will love themselves and know that they are perfect just the way they are. And, this is how it should be.