Stop Pressuring Girls/Women About Their Bodies And Marriage Already!

October 31, 2014. Halloween. Sienna dressed as Snow White. Yellow skirt. Blue top. Red bow in her hair. A plastic jack o’lantern in her hand waiting to be filled with candy. She’s 2 1/2 years old. She still doesn’t quite get the trick or treating concept. But that’s ok. Mommy and Daddy are proud. So proud. Mommy missed trick or treating last year and she’s super excited. And then we knock on the door. The man opens. He’s 50-ish. Salt and pepper hair. Taller than me. He hands Sienna 3 mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. And then he says it:

“Don’t eat all of that tonight or you’re gonna get sick and fat and you’ll never get married.”

Excuse me? Seriously, excuse me???

My wife and eye exchange a glance of anger, surprise. I grit my teeth through a smile.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “She’s not eating any of it. That’s our job for now.”

My head swirls. My daughter, my little Snow White just experienced the first crush of societal pressure heaped on girls and women about body image and marriage. I’m just so thankful she didn’t have a clue as to the negative and destructive power behind this man’s words.

But I did. My wife did. And I wanted to throw this man against the wall and scream at him:

“How dare you???” YOU are what’s wrong with this world! YOU are the cause of eating disorders and depression, of mental illness and suicide!! YOU and people like you!! Do you work in advertising, perhaps? Film? Television?? Do you enjoy spreading this propaganda?? This societal sickness that steals female empowerment, wrecks self-esteem and replaces them with a desperate need to compare themselves bodily and matrimonially, to starve themselves to death, to sit in therapists’ offices bemoaning that they’re 30 and not yet married. WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH YOU??? Here’s an idea…read something about female body image disorders. Jean-paul Sarte wrote that ‘words are loaded pistols’ and you just pointed one right at my beautiful little girl. HOW DARE YOU???”

Instead I made a joke and my wife laughed, but as we left his door for the next, anger bubbled in us and the joyful playfulness of Halloween felt tainted. Our innocent Snow White just experienced the evils of the world even if she didn’t realize it.


Does this little girl look like she needs to be worrying about body image and marriage

Sienna’s still too young to feel the backhanded sting of slings and arrows, still too young to study herself in the mirror, tearing herself to shreds because her 12-year-old waist is thicker than Mary’s or her belly’s too flabby so she needs to diet, diet, diet. Or she’s 28 and crying that no one will marry her because she’s too ugly, too fat despite her being positively gorgeous. Right now it’s just “green day” at school and she needs to wear a green shirt and bring in a green toy. Right now the world is an abundance of wonders.

“I want to touch the moon! I’m taking my flying carpet to China! Leaves are falling! Leaves are turning yellow!”

get-attachment (1)


And that’s what it should be. That’s what it should be for everyone. This society has a deep-rooted, systemic sickness, a hatred towards girls and women with even an inch of extra meat on their bones, a brutal “tsk-tsk” for unmarried women. Society, thanks to unrealistic portrayals on magazine covers, in commercials, print ads, media of all forms, causes females to turn on and rip each other and themselves apart rather than band together as the beautiful people they are, and it causes men to objectify them. Sienna’s gonna face it. There’s nothing I can do to stop it except educate her as best I can, but what is one voice against the relentless, insidiousness media, the never necessary taunts in school, the comparisons, the scale, the mirror. How much can I do?

2 1/2 years old and already the pressure starts.

That’s why we need sites like A Mighty Girl. That’s why we need female superheroes. That’s why we need podcasts such as this one by City Dads Group in which Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids and Mike Reynolds of Puzzling Posts discuss “the uphill climb our daughters still face in the 21st century and the role that we as dads can play in challenging the long-held beliefs and stereotypes that are foisted upon women and girls.” That’s why we need people like Christopher Persley’s column, Advice for my Daughter in which successful women provide advice for his 3-yr-old girl as well as the world at large.

I will educate my daughter as best as I can. I will raise her to avoid the societal pressure pitfalls that have led to my own battles with depression and anxiety (different pitfalls, of course). I will raise her to be strong, to fight back, to be herself and be proud of who she is. I will raise her to realize how ignorant a 50-ish man with salt and pepper hair can be.

Who’s with me?

10 thoughts on “Stop Pressuring Girls/Women About Their Bodies And Marriage Already!

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 6, 2014 at 1:55am

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. What’s wrong with people.

    I’ve noticed that fat-shaming women has become so acceptable to so many men, especially on line. It’s the first thing men say when they want to hurt someone. I’m really pretty sick of it.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      November 9, 2014 at 1:10pm

      So very true, Caren. Fat-shaming is out of control. Body image is out of control. We need to fight back. I certainly will

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sarah T

    November 12, 2014 at 7:18am

    What struck me (besides the absolute wrongness of what came out of man’s mouth) was the age of the man. I read “older” and pictured my grandmother’s age. She is in her 90s and comes from a generation of women that took great pride in gaining the least possible weight while they smoked and drank through their pregnancies. My whole family has been fat-shamed by her at some point. But then my brain registered that you perceived the man to be in his 50s, and I thought, “holy crap, that’s younger than my own parents. He ought to know better.”
    The good news is that your daughter has a caring dad that will be the voice of reason amongst all the bullshit, and believe me, it will make a huge difference to have the most important male in her life telling her she’s just fine the way she is.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      November 12, 2014 at 4:28pm

      That’s something that shocked me too. It’s not like he was 80-90 and could be somewhat “forgiven” for opening his mouth and having garbage spew from it. My grandmother’s 94 and all sorts of stupid things come out of it. This guy just seemed hateful and yeah, clearly should have known better. I keep picturing him saying it to a 12 yr old and imagining the damage it could cause. Ugh.

      Thank you so much for the compliment, Sarah! I will never stop educating Sienna on the insidiousness of society. It’s one of my goals that she learn how to live in this media-infested world via critical thinking.

      And that sucks about the fat-shaming. We’ve gotten the same thing from my grandparents and one of them was quite overweight!

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 12, 2014 at 10:26am

    Seriously!!?! You dress your daughter as a Disney princess then you’re shocked that someone treats her like a Disney princess? The problem is not the nice stranger giving her candy, it’s YOU for dressing her as someone whoes only goal in life is looking pretty and finding her “prince”. If you’d dressed her in something more Halloween-traditional (ghost, skeleton, monster, etc.) that guy would have said, “Oh! Aren’t you scary!”. Empowering women and ending fat-shaming needs to start at home, you guys already failed by teaching her to sing, “Someday, my prince will come…” and now you’re facing the consequences.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      November 12, 2014 at 4:23pm

      My daughter dressed as a Disney princess, yes, but that does not mean that she should be told that if she gets fat no one will want to marry her. There’s no reason to say that to anyone at any time.

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply


        November 12, 2014 at 5:26pm

        So you don’t find it hypocritical to complain about the “insidious media” and it’s obsession with body image, while at the same time bringing some of that very media into your home? You don’t find the whole Disney princess culture to be image obsessed? If you’re not willing to stand up to it in your own home, why are you expecting random strangers to do it for you? If you really want to make a difference in the fight against the fat-shaming and I’m-nothing-without-a-man culture then you need to be willing to stand up to your pre-schooler and make sure she has some role models that are concerned about more than just looks and finding a husband.

        • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

          Lorne Jaffe

          November 13, 2014 at 11:31am

          No I don’t find it hypocritical. Sarah’s exactly right. Toddlers do not understand the entirety of the princess culture. In fact Sienna barely understands it outside of dressing up in cool costumes. She also likes to dress up as superheroes. If she dressed up as Spider-Man does that mean she should receive jabs that Spider-Man’s a guy and girls shouldn’t dress like him? Last year she went as a shark for Halloween. She’s still too young to understand any of it. As I wrote in the post, she didn’t even get the whole trick or treating concept. Just because you dress up as a princess doesn’t mean you’re inviting harsh comments about weight and marriage. It’s on the random stranger to have some tact, but in this case the guy was just a jerk and represented so much of what’s wrong with the world.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sarah T

    November 12, 2014 at 9:18pm

    Wow, Cary, way to perpetuate the “blame the victim” mentality. She was dressed like a princess, so she deserved to be spoken to like crap? That’s crazy. Toddlers don’t understand the entirety of the princess culture. They just like to dress up, and for an evening, I don’t see a problem with that. My own daughter was Snow White once too. Then Cinderella and then Sleeping Beauty. And then one day, at the ripe old age of 4, she was over the whole princess trend and moved on to other things – as kids are prone to do. My mom, who is a self-sufficient, independent, intelligent, strong woman that once completed a master’s degree while going through a horrific divorce and supporting two children STILL likes Snow White to this day – it hasn’t seemed to cramp her abilities or sense of self in any way. Blaming the author for the actions of the man handing out candy is ludicrous. No matter what his daughter was wearing, what that man said was inappropriate and unacceptable.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      November 13, 2014 at 11:32am

      THANK YOU Sarah for injecting a ton of logic and reason into this argument. Your daughters are lucky to have you as a role model!

Leave a Reply

Your email will not be published. Name and Email fields are required.