Monday, 18 October 2010
It seems every time I think I have done something right, in regards to parenting, something happens to put me in my place. Reminding me not to be too proud nor too confident. This time it’s about body image.
After some rough early years (you know the teens and early twenties) I finally reached a place of body/food/exercise acceptance. And interestingly enough at 37 years old I’m the same size I was at 17. I have a few more stretch marks and my boobs aren’t quite as perky but my pants fit and I feel good.
As soon as I knew I was having a girl I was determined to get my head on straight about my own food and weight issues. I figured I needed to deal with things and build myself some honest and realistic self-confidence. So, that’s exactly what I’ve done.
I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t when I’m not. I watch my portion sizes and I’m mindful of what it is I’m actually eating. While I don’t exercise regularly, what I do is…I’ll take the stairs vs. the elevator. I’ll park at the far end of the parking lot and walk. I’ll stretch everywhere and anywhere. I might sprint for no reason or sword fight with my sons.
It took me long enough but it’s all good because I’m there. I’m really there.
The problem seems to be I convinced myself that if I just modeled (and talked/listened openly/honestly about) good self confidence, modesty, healthy eating habits and a positive attitude about movement/exercise then my daughter would just naturally be/have all of those things. That way she could skip all the messy self-conscience crap. I was going to be the perfect example of modest confidence for her.
Well, if my head wasn’t in the clouds on that one.
Zoe is going to be 13 next month and she’s having a hard time. You wouldn’t know it from all the photos I take of her but she’s even starting to shy away from the camera (just a little bit). She is only two inches shorter than me…maybe three…she can wear my clothes but they are mostly still a little big for her. She weighs the same as I do, I’m guessing and I’m pretty small…but not too small.
Last week we were at a family gathering and one of her cousins poked her belly and called her fat and said she had a jelly belly. Zoe told me normally it wouldn’t have bothered her all that much but this particular girl is super skinny and really tall (in comparison to Zoe). She is also two years older and out of that unpleasant awkward phase Zoe seems to be smack dab in the middle of.
A few days later we were at friends’ home and Zoe went for a piece of fudge and a younger boy said, No wonder you’re so fat! She was devastated. Instantly tears flooded down her cheeks. It was heartbreaking.
The thing is she is well within a healthy weight range. If anything it’s her body changing and the little weight she does have being carried oddly until it finds it’s new more permanent home. I find myself getting angry for even having to deal with any of this. I feel like I’ve done all the right things and still she is suffering…and to top it off the suffering is completely unwarranted. She is well within a healthy weight range. She is well within a healthy weight range. I just can’t say that enough.
I don’t really have a resolution on this one. Not yet anyway. I think in the end Zoe will be just fine. I think she will grow into to her own. I think she will be confident. I think she will get to that place I’m at but it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to spare her all the messy parts.
She’s gonna have to fumble her way through it just like the rest of us. I’m just do my best to be there to hug her, love her and hold her hand through the crap.Did you struggle with body image issues growing up? How is your child dealing with their body image and changes in their body? Have you had to help them through any difficult times?
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