Does this make me look fat? This is the trick question many of us women ask our significant others. Although I’ve found that the men in my life are smart enough to know that even if when I look like a beached whale, the right answer is “you look so skinny.”
Having a daughter has already got me thinking? How do I raise her with a positive body image? How do I make sure she is comfortable in her skin?
To be completely honest, these days I am just thankful that babies don’t understand or remember the things people say to them.
The man who came to fix the garage looked at Charlie and said “wow she’s a big one.” An acquaintance of my mom’s took one look and said “how much she did weigh at birth?” Many others have said “she’s such a healthy baby.” I think that’s probably the nicest term to use when calling my baby a fatty.
My happy baby clearly has no idea that these strangers are calling her fat, because she typically smiles back and occasionally lets out a squeal. Or maybe she does understand and thats her way of saying “F U”. I guess we will never know.
I remember back at Charlotte’s 4 Month check up, the doc asked how she was sleeping. At the time, I was going to lie because I kind of knew where the conversation was going, but instead I told the truth. “She sleeps through the night 50 percent of the time, and the other 50 percent she wakes up 1 time to eat”
The doctor said, “she doesn’t need to eat in the middle of the night. She is eating enough during the day to sleep through the night.” I felt like asking the doctor, “Do I look like I should sleep through the night, because I occasionally indulge in the midnight snack too?” We started talking to the doctor about starting solids at 6 months and she told us to avoid rice cereal and oatmeal. As a serial dieter myself, I immediately was thinking “Oohhh so south beach diet for the baby - low carb.” She then proceeded to explain that these food items were “empty calories, bland, do nothing for he babies palette.” Was she just telling ME this because she felt MY baby did not need the carbs. I now realize that the doctor meant well and that it was completely my own insecurities coming into play since their practice as a whole is against starting babies on that type of food.
All of this chatter about food, and weight, and percentiles brings me back to my childhood. How good mommies try to protect their children. How good mommies don’t want their children to feel hurt or embarrassed. How good mommies want their children to be confident.
Back when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I was quite chunky. I wanted cool clothes, but I couldn’t fit into most of them. It was so unfair that I couldn’t fit into those cool bell bottoms at Limited Too. CHUNKY GIRLS WANT COOL CLOTHES TOO YOU KNOW! My mom tried her best to find me clothes that I liked. She used to take me shopping at Sears. They had a section called PRETTY PRETTY PLUS. For a while, I shopped their happily. I had no idea I was in the chunky kids section. All i knew, was that the bell bottoms fit.
One day, while at Sears, I realized the name of the section. It was probably a day my mother was dreading. I asked her “Mom, why is this section called pretty pretty plus?” Without skipping a beat, my mother said “it’s for EXTRA EXTRA PRETTY girls.” What child doesn’t want to hear from their mom how pretty they are? I was satisfied with that answer, and we went on with our day.
But then a couple of years later, thanks to an early period and a much needed growth spurt, I leaned out. The Sears days were over and I was officially shopping at Limited Too. Hallelujah!! And then one day, my mom and I walked through Sears and I recognized the PRETTY PRETTY PLUS sign. Suddenly It all came to me. It was like the lightbulb came on. The dots were connected.
“MOM..... you told me that we shopped here here because I was EXTRA EXTRA PRETTY!!!! And it’s because I was fat!!!!!”
My mom looked at me lovingly and she shrugged her shoulders as if she was saying “well what was I supposed to tell you.”
In that moment, I did not appreciate how fortunate I was to have a mom who always built me up. As a kid…well really, as a chunky kid…I never felt less than, or embarrassed, or not pretty. My mom thought I was perfect just the way I was. I understand this love now too, because when I look at Charlotte, she is perfect to me. And now as Charlotte's mom, all I can hope is that I raise her to be confident but not cocky, opinionated but open minded, determined but not unrelenting. I know that if I can raise her to be all of these things, that even on a day when she is physically feeling her worst, she will know that these are qualities that make her EXTRA EXTRA PRETTY.