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A Girl Scouts psychologist wrote a guide for parents to discuss body image. It rocks.

"Yes, Your Daughter Just Called Herself Fat," is a must-read.

girsl scouts, body image, body image young girls, parents
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What a fabulous resource

The Girl Scouts' guide to help parents talk to their daughters about weight and body image is kind of amazing.


The guide, titled "Yes, Your Daughter Just Called Herself Fat," written by Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Andrea Bastiani Archibald, includes a step-by-step look at responding to your child should they come home one day from school saying, "I'm fat."

First of all, it breaks down just how prevalent fat-shaming is in our culture:

"According to studies, a whopping 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Why? Because they’re constantly surrounded by both subtle and direct messages that curvier or heavier girls aren’t as well liked, aren’t as likely to succeed in business, and in general, aren’t going to have as much fun or happiness in their lives."

Second of all, it explains why the knee-jerk response "You're not fat. You're beautiful!" that so many of us have actually isn't helpful.

Honestly, this part is so good that I'm just going to include the whole thing (which in its own awesome way, features the only reference to "The Dress" that won't make you want to scream):

"[I]f she really sees her body in a certain way, simply telling her to stop seeing it that way isn’t going to help much. Remember that infamous dress on social media a few years back that some people thought was blue and some thought was gold—and how frustrating it was when those who saw it differently insisted that you were seeing it wrong and tried to get you to see it their way? That’s kind of how your girl is going to feel when you tell her that her body simply isn’t the way she thinks it is.
...by essentially telling her that she's not fat, she's pretty, you're reinforcing the idea that fatter, rounder, curvier or heavier bodies aren't beautiful — which simply isn't true. There are endless ways to be beautiful, and your daughter will grow up with a much healthier relationship to her body if you teach her that in a genuine way from a young age."

This is such an important message that we don't hear often enough. Calling someone fat isn't bad because being fat is inherently bad, but it is bad to call someone fat as an insult because it implies that there's something wrong with larger bodies.

Fat is just another type of body, andall types of bodies are OK.

The guide also features some great steps parents can take if their daughters feel negatively about their body fat.

1. Don't assume you know where she's coming from.

"A better approach is to pause for a moment and ask your daughter why she thinks she’s fat," the guide advises. "Is it because her clothes are fitting differently than they used to or that a size she used to wear doesn’t feel comfortable anymore?"

Maybe her discomfort has to do more with the bodies of her classmates or what she's seeing in the media. Or maybe she is fat, and really just needs you to tell her that's OK too. Getting to the root of what's causing body image issues is an important first step.

Again, the guide warns against those knee-jerk reactions: "If she says she thinks her legs are bigger or her tummy is rounder than those of her friends, those may actually be correct observations — and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that."

2. Set a good example for her!

Kids pick things up from their parents all the time and internalize those messages even if parents aren't trying to pass them on. This is just as much about setting a good example as anything else.

"Another reason your girl might call herself fat is because she’s heard you do the same to yourself," reads the guide. "Your daughter listens to everything you say — and if you’re picking yourself apart in front of the mirror or complaining about your weight, there’s a good chance that she’ll follow in your self-disparaging footsteps."

That means giving yourself a bit of a break too. Just as you don't want her to have to try to live up to unrealistic beauty standards, remind yourself that you don't have to either.

"Identify parts of your body that serve you well and make note of the things you really do love about the way you look," says the guide. "Healthy habits like eating right and exercise are good for everyone and should be a daily part of your routine, but fixating on your body and how it could or should be different isn’t healthy for anyone."

3. Pay attention to the kind of media she's consuming and make sure she's seeing a variety of body types being celebrated.

TV, movies, and advertising are chock-full of messages meant to instill shame around body appearance, especially in girls and women. A bit of emotional counterprograming can go a long way. For example, check out the upcoming children's book "Glitter Stripes"; and for older girls, Hulu's "My Mad Fat Diary," Melissa McCarthy's performance in "Ghostbusters," and Chrissie Metz in "This Is Us," and Lynn Champlin on "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" are great body-positive/fat-positive representations in the media.

Video of plus-size blogger posted on Girl Scouts Twitter page below:

The guide advises parents to "go the extra mile to compensate for some of the less-healthy messages your daughter may be getting from other sources" by exposing them to accomplished women of all shapes and sizes.

"She needs to know you don’t have to be a certain size or shape to make it big in life."

This guide is just one of the many phenomenal parenting resources you can find on the Girl Scouts website.

Other topics include how to raise your children to be leaders, how to stand up to bullying, and how to be the best they can be in school. They're all great in their own ways, but the body image article stands out especially.

Thanks to the Girl Scouts, parents can now feel equipped to handle this potentially difficult conversation.

This article originally appeared on 06.19.17

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

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