• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 234 (Thoughts on Body Image)


    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  0.00 miles;  Running Total: 188.73 miles)

    Day 234 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    I sat on the side of the bathtub while the kids got ready for school. Hannah stood at the sink brushing her hair. She put the brush down and then stepped onto the bathroom scale.

    She looked over her shoulder at me and made a face. “I’m one pound heavier,” she said.

    Wait, what?

    I just blinked, shocked. It wasn’t that she weighed herself that concerned me. It wasn’t even that she noticed she’d gained a pound. What worried me was the forlorn look on her face.

    I struggled to find the perfect response. When it didn’t come I settled for, “You’re just growing. That’s all.”

    “I don’t want to grow,” she said.

    And again, I didn’t know what to say. I could see it in her face. She was afraid to grow because it meant gaining weight.

    Hearing the beginning of a negative self-body image coming from my eight year old’s mouth felt like someone wrapped a hand around my heart and squeezed. Even thinking of it now makes me want break the scale into a million pieces then hug her tight and tell her how beautiful she is.

    “Well, punkin,” I said. “You can’t stop growing. But look.” I stepped on the scale which promptly counted up to 151.2 pounds. I pointed to the numbers. “See? That’s how much I weigh. I had to grow up to that.”

    “Oh,” she said, studying the numbers. “Okay.” I was happy to see she looked a little relieved.

    While Hannah finished getting ready for school I plotted my revenge on the scale for hurting her feelings. I imagined burning it, throwing it against a wall, and making it sleep outside in the rain. But of course it isn’t the scale’s fault. The scale just reports a number.

    Right then and there I decided on the perfect punishment: Exile to a shelf in the closet.

    We don’t need the scale in the bathroom every day. I don’t weigh myself that frequently and either does Justin. The kids sure don’t need it, especially if Hannah is going to agonize over a pound here and there.

    It is not unusual to see my own weight fluctuate five pounds or more during a single day. And the week of my menstrual cycle I can forget about fitting into anything but stretch pants.

    If Hannah is worried about a single pound, how much is she going to beat herself up when she sees her own weight fluctuate (which, by the way, is totally normal)? Obviously she’s going to grow and gain more weight. The last thing I want is for her to hate that.

    All day I kept returning to the conversation, wondering how does a negative self-body image start so early? And where the hell did she learn it?

    I’m very careful about commenting on my weight at all. I might weigh myself if I notice my clothes not fitting, and usually the scale will confirm what I already suspected. In that case I’ll focus on eating right and working out regularly and the weight comes back off.

    The question is how to teach my children, my daughter in particular, that no two people are the same. That can be a tough pill to swallow when everywhere she turns she’ll be struck by an unattainable body image. Airbrushed models on magazines covers. Actresses on television and the movies who seem to get thinner every year. Even kids at school vary in size and shape.

    There’s something profoundly wrong with the idea that if you don’t have the flattest stomach or the perfect thigh gap or an ass you can bounce a quarter off of then there’s something wrong with you.

    I don’t look like those models and actresses, and you know what? I’m good with that.

    Sure there are things about my body that I don’t like. Especially now after a mastectomy. But I don’t hate my body. On the contrary I’m fascinated by the incredible things I can do with my body. I brought two beautiful babies into this world with this body. I can run. I can play. I believe that physical activity is fun.

    And if I don’t look like a supermodel, so what?  After all the photo shopped changes, supermodels don’t even look like supermodels.

    Today’s silver lining: That conversation with Hannah reminded me that I am fundamentally okay with how I look. Are there things I would change? Sure. But my short hair, uneven breasts, and scars tell a story about me. I wasn’t sure I would ever get back to this feeling after a mastectomy, but here I am.

    I can only hope to show my children through my own actions to love the body they’re in because it’s the only one they’re going to get.

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.


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7 Responsesso far.

  1. Tina Smith says:

    Poor, Hannah, this is a difficult age and it just gets harder.

    Maybe showing her some of the videos that show that a lot of those models are airbrushed and all the touching up that’s done. Sometimes showing what’s going on behind the curtain can minimize that pressure.

  2. pwsquare says:

    You are a good mommy, and an excellent role model. She will be fine 🙂

  3. […] An important post by Meghan: “Thoughts on Body Image.” […]

  4. Mom says:

    I can remember a young lady that didn’t wan’t to grow tall because tall was ugly according to an adult. We pulled out everything we could think of to show you how beautiful tall people (women) are. We even took out a Playboy magazine to show you girl’s that were over 6 feet and beautiful. Hannah is in what I used to say is a puppy stage. Think of puppies growing up and the awkwardness as they grow. You got over it but then another phase came in…………. Love you lots, Mom

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