The American Heart Association reports that about one in three American children and teens are overweight or obese, and that the prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011. With good reason, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States.
For one local mother, the issue was much closer to home.
Her daughter, suffering from childhood obesity due to insulin resistance, was also dealing with self-esteem issues because mass-marketed clothing did not flatter her young body’s dimensions. The combination of managing a health issue while searching for age-appropriate clothing inspired Elena Hartmanis Sher of North Palm Beach to develop the Sunflower Girlz clothing line.
“Sunflower Girlz is a clothing line for moms, like myself, trying to navigate their way through life with an overweight child, or just a larger child,” Hartmanis Sher said. “My daughter, now 5, became overweight when she was 2. All of a sudden, her height and her weight were off the charts. I wanted to create clothes that grow with girls, and that are lightweight, flexible and breathable. I wanted the line to make these girls feel beautiful.”
Hartmanis found that larger children’s sizes, such as 6x and 8x, did not properly fit her daughter, often being too long and requiring hemming. Sunflower Girlz ensembles are designed to accommodate larger waistlines and midsections without adding more length.
The line is also designed to be pretty and help girls feel attractive and confident in their clothing. Combating the negative comments and assumptions people made about the origins of her daughter’s weight gain was of significance to Hartmanis Sher.
After much research, her family discovered that her daughter was insulin-resistant, which led her body to retain weight and process sugars differently than other children.
“I have encountered a lot of judgment and opinion from friends, family and strangers. I wanted to develop a clothing line that encompasses the well-being of mind and body,” she said. “I am not a doctor, nutritionist or psychologist. I just plan to offer the tools and techniques I am using that are helpful to me and my family, and I hope they can be helpful to others as well.”
To learn more about Sunflower Girlz, visit www.sunflowergirlz.com.
ABOVE: Sunflower Girlz ensembles are designed to accommodate larger waistlines and midsections.