On the 4th of July, visiting friends in the mid-west, my heart dropped out of the sky. Having a wonderful time, my daughter pulled me into the bathroom and whispered into my ear. She and her little brother had been getting along with all the other kids – having a blast. It was getting dark, soon we’d be watching fireworks down at the lake.
“Mama,” she whispered into my ear. “Don’t tell dad, but I think I’m fat.”
“What?” A knife pierced my heart. I wanted to scream. I pulled her close, kissed her all over, told her how beautiful she was and asked her, “Did somebody say something to you?” I didn’t get anything back. She shook her head no. I prodded. She didn’t divulge any more than that one comment from outer space. She is 7!!! She has always been Miss Confident with her body, soul and spirit. Comfortable in her skin. I wracked my brain for more ideas. Had she overheard me, another adult, say something about our bodies? Was she comparing herself to the lean, leggy teenagers we had just met? What triggered this? Never before had she made such comments.
Oh, I wanted to yell, run, hide – swoop my little girl into my arms and protect her from any possible hurt. My little girl. My beautiful little girl. Was she going to be labeled like I was as a child as “the husky one”? Was she going to grow up with all skinny friends and wish her body was different than it was, like I had?
At the age of 41, I’m working on loving my body as it is, learning how to accept what I have and not look into the mirror and say, “If only”, but “I love you as is.” Years of unlearning old behaviors and thought patterns. Here is my opportunity to teach my darling girl new thought patterns. But there is absolutely nothing I can do about the society we live in. Nothing I can do about the magazines she’ll one day look at or movies she’ll one day see.
She eats healthier than many kids I know, she plays soccer, swims and loves to run. She just happens to have my genes. She chooses water over juice, fruit over candy. A phrase that I can handle over husky, but also grew up with, is how some would describe her, “big boned.” Why do we even have to have phrases or words to distinguish our bodies? Why does it even have to be pointed out that her body is a different size than other girls her age? She is also two inches taller than many of her friends. If her doctor isn’t concerned and she is still growing, did I mention she is 7, does it even have to come up now in her life?
Today, five days later, I got more of the story. It dates back to the playground, early June, when a girl, (the same one who told her what sex was…see Sex Talk April 27th’s blog) said out of the three of them standing there, my daughter was the most fat. I can’t call the girl’s mom, I can’t yell at the girl. I can only love my daughter, teach her how to be healthy. But the number one thing I can do …… is start believing my body is just as worthy to be loved as the skinnier gal walking down the street.