I have a beautiful daughter.
Not like, “I think she’s pretty and her grandparents think she’s pretty” beautiful, but like, “people have stopped me in public more than once to tell me she should be a model” beautiful. What can I say–she’s the female incarnation of her father. (side note: my 2015 blogging resolution is to work a compliment to John into every post. kidding. maybe.)
But despite being beautiful, strong and possessing a winning personality, my daughter is worried about the way she appears to others.
We do not talk about weight loss in our home. I’ve been blessed with a higher than average metabolism and I eat pretty much anything I want–as long as I can swallow! We don’t say things like, “I need to lose five pounds” or “I’m on a diet.” I serve a healthy dinner each night, but we all top it off with a big bowl of ice cream or some other dessert. I’ve never monitored how much candy or chips or anything else my kids eat, but for the most part they are all healthy eaters and all in the right place on the pediatrician’s growth chart.
So why would my perfect, healthy, thin daughter ask me if her thighs were getting too big? Why would she say to me, just yesterday, “I almost weigh 70 pounds. I can’t go over 70 pounds or I’ll be fat.”?
I’m heartbroken. And disgusted. We live in a world where it doesn’t matter if your mother projects a positive body image; it doesn’t matter if your screen time is limited to mostly PBS; it doesn’t matter if you bring a homemade packed lunch to school filled with applesauce and pbj. It doesn’t matter if you are a terrific ballet dancer with strong legs you’ve built through hours of hard work…..if someone else tells you that those same legs are fat.
I’m assuming that some of the girls at school must be talking about weight and food and what size they wear at Gymboree. And I get that it’s a normal part of going to school–encountering ideas that may not be ideal. I’m fine with that.
What I’m not fine with is raising a daughter who doesn’t understand that her value is completely unrelated to the size of her jeans. I don’t want to stumble across her Tumblr account someday in the future (don’t worry, she doesn’t have one now!) and find her blogging about thigh gaps or juice diets. I’m really not fine with having my daughter walk around thinking she’s less than anything, based on what other people might be (falsely, in this case) telling her.
And I’m fully prepared to read all the articles and absorb all the advice on how to raise a body confident teenage daughter (or son)….I just didn’t think I’d need to be doling out this advice to a nine year old.
So what did I say to miss “70 pounds, omg my thighs are huge”? I told her that I’m glad she’s still growing and I hope she’s lucky enough to weigh at least 100 pounds or more by the time she is a teenager. I showed her the growth chart online and where she falls in height and weight percentiles (exactly average). Then I made her a bowl of ice cream.
I decided not to tell her that she had the most adorable chunky thighs as a baby. It seemed counterproductive, even if it’s true.
So–give me some feedback (parents, non-parents, mothers of girls, mothers of boys, pretty much anyone except the computer tech at Best Buy is welcome to comment). I’d love to have any of your advice on how I can continue to help my child focus on the things about her body that really matter–healthy, strong, kind thoughts–so she can enjoy her ice cream and have a comeback for the next person who says her perfect little thighs are fat.