Monday, August 19, 2013

The Skinny One

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."

I wilted.

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.

Clearly I had failed. 

But where had I failed. I never called myself or other people fat in front of her. I never really commented on any ones appearance in a significant way. She clearly didn't get this from me! It must have been those pre-school teachers or my husband, not me, a woman who was purposely trying to protect her daughter from a lifetime of dreading the beach, the one place Spanx can't save you. I wanted to protect her from hating her body as I had spent an eternity hating mine. My self-worth had been tied up with the numbers on the scale and how much skin hung over the waistband of my pants since as long as I can remember; threads that were intricately and unfortunately weaved together.

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.


Tamara Camera said...

I think about this a lot. (and I watch Chopped while nursing, or at least I used to) My daughter first used the word "fat" to describe one of the kings in Sleeping Beauty. Strange, right? I don't know where she heard it but I recoiled faster than when she first said the "f" word.
I'm with you on the changing actions..

Ariel @ Dreams To Do said...

This makes me so sad. :( can our 4 year olds please not grow up? The other night Leila said she had something to tell me then broke down in tears. She told me her friends at school called her mean. I died inside. Broke my heart into pieces. Parenting is tough stuff.

Angela said...

My daughter is 4 too and they are incredibly observant. I hate it every time she picks up some new cruelty of our world :(

Allie Burdick said...

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. I'm sure your daughter has picked up many *positive* things from you as well. I don't have daughters (thank God!!) but I can only imagine what all you moms of them have to deal with. My biggest dilemma with my boys is healthy food choices. The hubs and I don't always agree on this but somewhere in there, it's moderation. We're all doing the best with can both with ourselves and our kids, right?

AJ said...

Don't be hard on yourself. I cannot even imagine how sad you must have felt. You are doing your best and she of course has outside influences in the world! The best you can do is acknowledge this is wrong and talk to her about it! :)

AJ | TheAJMinute

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