Moms are often the focus of most conversations about body positivity and parenting, for understandable reasons. As women, we are more likely to be targeted by body shaming messages, and we often have more work to do to overcome negative conditioning about our weight, our appearance, and other aspects of life as it pertains to our bodies, so we don't pass those struggles to our kids. Still, there are ways that dads can teach their kids about body positivity, too, and it's critical that dads be a part of this conversation.
For starters, men are also targeted with ableist, fatphobic, and other unrealistic expectations for their bodies. Body image is an issue for men and boys, even if they aren't as frequently or explicitly oppressed based solely upon their appearance. More importantly, given their privilege as a result of their gender, they also have disproportionate social power to determine how others — including their children — feel about and experience life within their own bodies.
I, and so many people I know (particularly women), can point to specific ways that our relationships with our bodies have been deeply affected by how our dads talked to and around us about our own and the bodies of others. Whether it was mealtime comments about how our eating habits were affecting our weight and shape, or watching our dads comment on which celebrities and public figures they considered attractive, or hearing their conversations with other men where they commented on others’ appearance, many of us have vivid memories of the ways in which our fathers taught us troubling things about how the rest of the world viewed people like us.
Dads are so important in their kids lives, so it's very important that they understand how to use their influence to help their kids develop a body positive outlook, and to help create a more body positive world for their kids to live and grow up in.