Between the 3 Curvies on here, we have 7 daughters. Age range 3-14. I know I am not alone in my concern for their perception of their bodies right now and as they grow. How do they perceive people around them? What are they taking in from other women, the media, from ME!?
I have tried my hardest to not ever speak of my body in a negative way in front of them. I may do the joke grabbing of the lower roll after birthday cake, or let them know my big butt is about to squash them (because it will if they don't get their 3 little butts out of MY chair which only holds MY butt.) But everything else I save for my girlfriends, for my husband (who is trying to inch out of the room), and for my own inner lamenting. But I would not be surprised by what they may have overheard or inferred from my getting ready to go somewhere.
My eldest has reached the age when I became a fat kid. 8. 3rd grade. Corduroy coolots. (I will take a moment for you to snicker) I find I eye her behind the morning cereal box, peek at her as she runs into the shower, watch her as she practices her piano and think: Whew! She is not taking after me! But then I heard a family member over the holidays comment on how she has filled out and my claws came out...and I used them to grab wood and rug as I hightailed it in the other direction. Licking wounds! Licking wounds! I fear nothing more than for my child to take the road I have taken.
I know she is supposed to fill out. I shake away the skeletons from my emotional closet and remind myself that she is not me. There is this huge ass pool of genes that she is created from. Who knows what will come of it? (PANIC! PANIC! I don't know something!!) But then I remember my dad's words to me growing up when I would be crying, not wanting to go to school the next day because of the teasing. He said to me, "You are a better person for this. You are stronger and wiser for having gone through this. You will never be like those people. You know the way through because, truly, you will get through this." Oh, back then I rolled over and cried some more. But when I hit 18, I got what he was saying. I knew I was wired differently than those who never traveled that road.
My eldest came home from school after a gym class in which they discussed healthy eating and she became convinced that she could never eat a fat, a sweet, anything other than veggies, again. Because she is like that. She takes any word said as if it were being said directly to her (MY gene pool, thank you very much). I explained to her that many children in her school did not get a healthy balance of foods for a whole series of reasons. But she does. She looked at me in full panic mode and said, "But I eat devil dogs!"
"Yes you do. You have a desert many nights. But what did you have for snack?" And the talking her down off the ledge begins as she realizes that she leans toward the healthy anyway. Because I always give it. It is always there. Not everyone has it. Healthy is expensive. Healthy is time consuming (Cue Rebecca's jump in on easy clean lean foods!) Healthy takes thought in the grocery stores we have now. (Though I do see that tide turning, thankfully.)
So with the knowledge of where I have been, I am guiding her through this start of adolescence in a different way than I traveled, regardless of her body type. There will be no mention of how her body looks, but how it works for her. I will not tsk a brownie because that leads to secret brownies. I will always put the veggies and fruit plate out. I will kick the kids outside and keep her in active activities since our schools no longer can. I will make sure I tell her she is beautiful and smart and is active in the choices she makes in her life. What is more gorgeous than a woman who knows what she wants and grabs at it?