Dean McDermott was forced to have a tough conversation about body image after Liam, his 12-year-old son with wife Tori Spelling, was body shamed online.
The actor, 52, said that Liam asked if he was obese after seeing rude comments on an Instagram post Spelling put up in March. The post included photos of Liam and his siblings — Stella, 11, Hattie, 7, Finn, 6, and Beau, 2 — eating Little Bites snacks as part of a sponsorship.
McDermott talked about the post and Liam’s reaction to the comments on his “Daddy Issues” podcast, which he hosts along with Adam Hunter and Nicky Paris.
“So [Spelling] did this post about, you know, having a snack with the family, and all the moms got up in arms. ‘You feed your kids this? … No wonder they’re obese,’ ” McDermott said. “So, Liam saw this. He saw it on my phone, and he took me aside, and he said, ‘Dad, am I obese?’ And I said, ‘Dude, no. You are not obese.’ ”
McDermott decided to use this as a teaching moment for Liam about trusting yourself and not letting others bring you down.
“I took him aside, and I said, ‘Look, you know what? People are going to say horrible things. We’re in the spotlight, Mom and Dad. People know who you are, and people are going to say nasty things. So you can fire back at them, or you can stop and think and send them some love.’ ”
McDermott said he told Liam that the comments were more of a reflection on the commenter than on him.
“‘Think of how horrible their life must be if they’re gonna take the time to go on Mom’s account, look at it, and write something horrible about somebody they don’t know. How messed up is their life? How sad are they? They probably live in their mom’s basement. They probably have no friends,’ ” he said he told Liam. “So I said, ‘We can get mad about this, or we can take the high road, send them some love because they’re hurting.’ … Liam’s 12, going on 30. So, you know, he really got it.”
McDermott also said that he told Liam that his body won’t be like it is now for long, and that he’ll soon go through a growth spurt like Jack, McDermott’s 20-year-old son with ex-wife Mary Jo Eustace.
“I said, ‘Look at your brother, Jack. Your brother Jack is 6-foot-4, and he’s, like, 170 [lbs]. He’s, like, beautiful, tall and thin, and he went through a phase where he wasn’t.’ I said, ‘Remember your brother Jack, when he went away to Canada and came back two months and he grew a foot?’ I said, ‘It’s in your DNA. Look at that. You’re not obese. You’re gonna sprout out, and you’re big and beautiful. You’re fantastic. Just never mind these haters.’ ”
But while McDermott put on a calm face for Liam, he said that in private he was furious about the Instagram comments.
“You know what, I went in the room, and I wanted to put my fist through the f—king wall,” he admitted.
McDermott and Spelling frequently find themselves defending their kids against online bullies. Back in September, Spelling slammed commenters who said her kids looked “disheveled” and “unfit” in a photo she shared of their first day back at school.
“For all the individuals on here that felt the need to #momshame and #kidshame me and my children I say ‘Shame on you!’ I was raised to believe that if you can’t say anything nice about someone then don’t say anything at all,” she wrote. “Lift others up and you in turn lift yourself up #endcyberbullying.”
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