Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Body Image

I'm heavy. I've always been heavy or at least I can't remember a time when I didn't think I was. That isn't some fat girl cry for help, it's true. I wasn't down on myself, no more than the average teen growing up but I always felt fat, even if looking back I can't see that I was. My two friends below were really thin and while I wasn't I remember feeling so much bigger than them but I look at this photo and I don't see it. I was 14.

I remember in the 5th grade for some ungodly reason we had to weigh ourselves in class. I remember feeling sick to my stomach that I had to do that at school. Why you would weigh kids in class is beyond me! Clearly that would be an issue for some so what benefit you were trying to achieve was clearly outweighed (get it) by the fact that I skipped school that day. Well, the joke was on me because when I returned the following day, it had been rescheduled because the teacher at that shit hole of a middle school had been absent as well. So I had no where to run. Well played teacher whose name I can't recall, well played!

I was pissed!

In an attempt at privacy (I guess) they called each kid one at a time into a separate part of the room to weigh us individually and then sent us back to our seats where of course all of the other kids asked, "How much did you weigh?" Calling us out from our peers only to immediately return us to their demon souls and nosey questions made about as much sense as pulling all the girls into a "health" seminar to watch a reel to reel on our bodies and sexual needs. Then being sent into the hallways with a small brown paper bag like no one was going to know there was a big diaper like sanitary pad in there! Jr. High boys aren't THAT stupid! Uggghhhh....

Horrible 80s clothes aside, and that stupid Andy Taylor button I wore because I thought he didn't get enough love, this is me in 7th grade (I think). I pinned that damn thing to my shirt, jacket or purse for years until we had a falling out over a phony light sensitivity and a lawsuit. I wasn't all that fat here, but my friend Anna was tiny so I'm sure that made me feel bigger. I can't even think about my weight because all I see is turquoise. Who is that person? The following photo is even worse. I needed a personal stylist or an intervention or something. Geez.....

The point I'm getting at is not all women, fat or not, have self esteem issues but I guess it's more prevalent in the chunky chicks. Luckily I didn't have any of that post baby body conscious crap going on in my head. Yay! Let's hear it for already being fat!!!

The guestion I have is with the way I talk about weight, like it's a reality as opposed to some secret I'm trying to keep under wraps like my ass doesn't tell the story, is how do I teach my daughter about weight? She is super tiny and long, so my hopes of her having the body of a super model (minus the cocaine) haven't been dashed yet, but she eats like she just got out of prison so we will have to have a talk about it at some point if she continues.

She's tiny now but she'll pack on the potatoes and it will start to show in middle school, leading her into the world of family issues that I don't want to pass onto her. I'm a lot less concerned about her appearance than I am about her chances for high blood pressure and diabetes.

Ignore the hair (as if it were possible) and this is me in Jr high. Again, not huge but carrying a few extra pounds. Still, NOT how I remember it at all.

This was 10th grade and possibly my favorite photo of me ever because it's just so ridiculous but clearly I wasn't fat. Heavier than I should be, but not fat. The one after is 11th grade and while I don't like remembering myself wearing pink, I still don't see the fat I remember.

Photos fall off after high school up until I stated buying real cameras again but my concern for River is that she'll hear how I talk about weight and form weird issues about her own thinking that the word "FAT" is a bad word. I certainly don't call her "piggy" "chunky cheeks" or any of those other things it is OK to call a tiny baby but I do use the word fat as a realistic word and not a criticism. I think that's a good thing but I understand not all see it that way. I don't care how others see it but I worry that River could take my words and put them on herself.

I don't want to see my 4th grader on a diet for no other reason than poor body image. I don't want her to think that in order to be liked she has to fit into a mold that Vogue magazine created for her. Genetically she and her brother are screwed so I have to find other ways to make them see eating differently than I did when I was growing up. I don't want my kids to think that all meals come with fries and a soda. I don't want them thinking that hot dogs and chips are a regular lunch, but it's more than that.

Cover girls aren't real, they're created in a world of PhotoShop and airbrushed so if you compare yourself to that, you'll always lose. My goal is to teach River that while eating healthy is the way to go, she needs to see herself as perfect whatever size she is. I think you can be a size 0 and still think you're fat so why teach her that a smaller size is the goal? Why not teach her that self acceptance is the goal? Won't she be better off in the long run with a love of self as opposed to a fight for smaller size?

I have no idea where young girls get their screwed up body image! At least girls these days are being fired from fashion shows for being too thin because this is ridiculous! Do clothes really look better on this chick than they do someone who eats? I certainly don't want this to be a goal for my daughter! I think I'd rather be fat.
Thin may be in but I'll take my self assured kickass, in your face beautiful daughter over a scary thin girl any day, but balance is good. We're a work in progress....


  1. I am 5'9" and never wore larger than a size 10 all through high school and STILL felt fat and ugly, and had cellulite from the time I was 15, which only compounded the feeling of being overweight/ out of shape.
    Friends tried to talk me into looking into modeling, but when I went to an open call at 18 years old weighing in at 135-140, I was scoffed at and told I'd need to get down to 120-125 to even begin to compete.
    I remembered weighing 120 when I was about 14, was probably 4 inches shorter and had no breasts, butt, nor hips. I realized then, it just wasn't a goal I wanted to pursue. Even Cindy Crawford who was my same height, weighted 130. They wanted me to weigh 10 pounds LESS?! Why? Was she not successful at her weight?
    I, oddly enough, only became totally comfortable in my own skin after I had my first child at 28.
    Great Post!

  2. It really is all about self-acceptance. I used to think I was "fat"- and there was no way I was, looking back. Not even a little, but it was low self-esteem. Plus a mom who was obsessed with staying a skeleton. It messed with my head big time.

    You have a much healthier outlook on it and THAT will be a huge help to your daughter.

  3. In 5th grade we also had to weigh ourselves, AND have this pinchy thing check our BMI... it was so embarrassing. It was horrible for me because not only did I have skinny friends, but I had my super skinny twin sister standing right beside me, with a much lower BMI.

  4. oh I HATED that pinchy BMI test!!!

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