‘I am SICKENED this is on a lunch box. ‘Why does my 5-year-old call herself ‘fat?’ ‘Why does my middle schooler stand in the mirror and find her flaws?’ We scratch our heads when we see little girls struggle with body image.’

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“See this? This is a picture I snapped today of a little girl’s lunchbox that I saw for sale at a popular department store. Why do I say it’s marketed toward little girls? It’s pink, it has sequins and it was surrounded by other girls’ merchandise. So, safe to say that it’s aimed at our daughters.

I am SICKENED that this phrase is on a lunch box.

We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self-worth, with confidence.

We wonder, ‘Why do our girls worry so much about their bodies so young?’ … ‘Why does my five-year-old call herself ‘fat?’‘ … ‘Why does my middle schooler stand in front of the mirror and find all her flaws?’

THIS. This is part of the reason why.

Our world is telling our girls that it’s ‘cheating’ if they eat something that’s not 100% fat-free and perfectly healthy. In turn, that tells them that self-control and denying herself is to be valued above all. And that if she dares to step outside of the foods that will keep her perfectly slim and trim, then she is by default ‘cheating’ and needs to feel some sense of remorse.

Look, I’m not saying a diet of strictly sugar and chips is right either; but by God, why would a company ever pile onto our girls’ already-fragile senses of self by making her feel as though she’s ‘cheating’ by eating something that’s–gasp–not made of vegetables and air?

‘You’re overreacting!’ you might say. To which I say, No. We are not overreacting when we ask more of the world when it comes to how they treat our girls.

Can you imagine a similar message directed toward little boys? For the record, I’d be equally offended… but I haven’t seen anything that is aimed at making our boys feel bad about what they eat, or how they look.

So here’s what I want to say, and what I will tell my girls. Girls–you are not ‘cheating’ when you enjoy good food. You are not ‘cheating’ when you eat pizza. You are not ‘cheating’ when you have a cookie, or two, on occasion. You are not ‘cheating’ when you live in moderation and allow yourself things that make you happy.

Girls–you are MORE than your bodies. More than your faces. More than your complexions. More than the clothes you wear and the things you buys and the other girls you hang out with.

You are beautiful, worthy, intelligent, and whole beings–whole beings who are worthy of so much love and respect, no matter what anyone, or anything, says.”

Sonni Abatta

“UPDATE: Some people have written to me to say they believe the lunch box is made for women, not girls. Few things to clarify: First, this was surrounded by other lunch boxes and gummy snacks. As you can see, above it is another light pink and small lunch box. To me, that seems like it’s for girls. Second, it’s pink with gold sequins. Even if the label doesn’t explicitly say ‘girls,’ you’re going to say that this isn’t meant to appeal to them? And third: Even if it was supposed to be marketed only toward women and the store just decided to place it with other items that seemed very ‘young girl’ in nature, still kind of sucks. So, to all my grown-up ‘girls,’ you aren’t cheating either when you enjoy life a little. xo”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sonni Abatta. The article originally appeared here. Follow Sonni on Instagram here and Facebook here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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