The other day Isabella and I were watching Chopped while I nursed Arya. I find it to be one of the many blessings in my life that Isabella is a hard core fan of cooking shows. After they showed the contestants we each picked who we wanted to win. There were four female chef's and when I asked her why she chose the one she did she said, "Because she's the skinniest, mommy, and skinniest is the best."
This was not happening. I had been determined to try and raise Isabella with positive body image, to avoid labels like "fat" and "skinny" and use words such as "healthy". I knew the world would get her eventually as she entered school and started to grow up and read magazines that were plastered with the unattainable, photoshopped images of a beauty that no woman could ever possess without the help of a computer. But I wanted to provide a solid foundation of self-worth and confidence that she could fall back on when she doubted herself the most.
My thoughts turned away from my words and towards my actions. How many times had my daughter seen me look disapprovingly at myself in the mirror? How many times had she seen me frown as I pinched the extra skin on the backs of my arms? How many times had she seen me in a tizzy ripping my closet apart to find something that fit? How often had she witnessed me sucking in my stomach and fretting over my appearance?
Too often. Kids are perceptive and they're smart.
While my words spoke about healthy lifestyle and exercise and good food choices, my actions betrayed the fact that I really don't care about being healthy or fit or strong. I care about being thin. There I said it...the ugly truth. I care about the numbers on the scale and what size jeans I can wear and how much weight I can lose. But I don't want her to be that way. I want her to love herself. I want her to know how wonderful she is so that when someone tells her that she isn't she won't believe them.
I didn't know what to say to Isabella that day when she chose the skinniest chef, but I know now that it won't always matter what I say, but that the change needs to occur in my actions.