I was shocked at the range of emotions that it brought up. I laughed. I was impressed with her fearlessness. I thought, "There's no way I'd show my muffin top intentionally!" I was frightened. I was inspired.
Here's the thing. I exercise regularly. I generally eat healthy foods. It doesn't matter. I still have a muffin top. I keep it tucked away under long shirts whenever possible, but occasionally it does sneak out to be seen. It isn't something I'm proud of. It isn't how I'd choose for my body to look. It is however, my body. It is something I need to learn to accept and even love - if not for myself, then for my girls.
While I try very hard not to say anything about my body around my girls, I think they can sense my body issues. Kids are smart. They don't need me to say anything. Little actions (or inactions) are all they need to know that I'm not happy with the way I look. The problem is that I want them to be happy with themselves. I want them to love their bodies now, when they are teenagers, and when they become adults. I don't want them to be self-conscious. I don't want their body images to interfere with their relationships and happiness. In order for them to have that confidence. I think I need to develop more of my own.
Obviously, not all of a child's body image comes from her parents. Kids are exposed to the message that weight loss is important on TV, in movies, on the radio, and just about everywhere else you look. My girls aren't big TV watchers. Recently, they've begun watching MeTV on the weekends though. (They love Leave It To Beaver!) At the start of the new year, every commercial on MeTV seemed to be about weight loss. Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and local gyms advertised during each and every two minute break. A few weeks ago, Pumpkin asked if she could sign up for Nutrisystem because she needed to lose 15 lbs.
She's 8. She's not even close to overweight. If she lost 15 lbs, she'd probably die. My heart broke at the thought that she might be even a little serious.
Her comment led to a talk about weight, bodies, shapes, sizes, exercising, and good food choices - all stuff we've talked about before. She seemed like maybe she was just saying it for shock value. (She's my child that likes to get a reaction from people.) However, I do worry about her especially. I'll never forget the day that she came home from 3 year old preschool and said, "Sara (name has been changed) and I are the fat girls in our class."
Again - What?!
She didn't say it with any real emotion. She said it as if it were fact. I don't know who told her that, but obviously someone had. We had never used the word "fat" in our house. I wasn't even sure if she knew what it meant. Ever since that day I've watched her carefully because I knew that a seed had been planted. One million people can tell her from now until forever that she isn't fat, but if she is anything like me, she will remember the one person that said she was louder and more clearly in her head.
How do you drown out that voice that tells you that you aren't good enough?
I don't know that you can ever really eliminate that voice, but hopefully my girls will be able to at least hear the other voices that are kind, loving and accepting. With that love and acceptance I hope they develop a desire to take care of themselves with healthy food choices and an active lifestyle. Then, when they're doing the best they can for themselves and enjoying their lives, I want them to look in the mirror and be proud of who they are. My girls are beautiful and they always will be, regardless of their sizes, freckles, blemishes, etc. They each have a big heart, amazing sense of humor, and a mind (and body) that will take them anywhere they want to go! That is something to be grateful for!