Friday, March 09, 2012

Body Image I

Here's the progress I've made on my list:
  • I decided we would wait one more year and start Ella in preschool when she is three years old. (whew!)
  • 60 Minutes did an article about red-shirting kids for Kindergarten. (that's not crazy at all)
  • A former student of mine gave me a writing assignment. (how's that for success?)
  • I dropped Medicine A and two or three dress sizes, but I still haven't exercised once in 2012. (must do something about that)
  •  Being Ella's Mommy is the only job I've ever been good at AND liked so much. I've finally found my calling.
  • Body image (see bullets 3, 4, 5--more on that later)
  • 99 of 100 (what I didn't do for winter break)
  • oh, and don't forget, I made a table (see bullet 1)
Already, one of the crossed-off items is no longer true.

And, in the meantime, I have written an entire other blog entry that I can't even post yet because I have to wait to tell Justin about the experience so that he can be the first to know.

So you can tell I am just dying to get to the rest of the list--not just because it includes that writing assignment, which is actually due in less than a week.

Let's talk body image.

I try never to weigh myself in front of Ella. Scratch that. I actually never do weigh myself in front of Ella. I don't want her to know where the scale is (right next to the sink where she washes her hands). I don't want her to know what the scale does (shows us a number to which most of us (myself included) attach way too much significance).

I don't buy fashion magazines. I get Self. We look at the people exercising and the pictures of fruits and vegetables and sun. We tear out recipes that we hope Justin will cook for us. She pages through catalogs ("her mail") from Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn, and Babies'R'Us, but I don't give her the ones for clothes. Come to think of it, I don't actually get any of those--but I suppose there must be department store ads that come in the mail. Oh, and for some reason, LL Bean. I don't know why--I don't think I've ever bought anything from LL Bean. She gets the ads for grocery stores.

I try not to talk disparagingly about weight or appearance, whether it be mine or someone else's. I think I've got some room for improvement on that one.

I try not to talk admiringly about weight or appearance, whether it be mine or someone else's. I think I've got some room for improvement on that one.

I tell her she's pretty all the time.

Is that good? Is that bad?

I don't know.

I balance it out with compliments about everything else, too. She's funny, smart, clever, a good reader, a good talker, a good walker, a good climber, a good runner, a good seat belt fastener, a good artist, a good listener, a good friend, a good girl (what does that mean?!?!), a good daughter.

What I do know is that I want her to have a confident body image.

I want her to dress modestly, yet attractively. I want her to feel comfortable, not consumed, with her appearance. I want her to love herself and everybody else for more than their looks. I want her to eat healthily and exercise regularly and do things she enjoys, without worrying what other people might think about her.

"What other people think about you is none of your business," I've heard it said.

I've never been much good at believing it, though.

For Ella, I want joy and confidence and radiance.

Raising a girl is a terrifying thing.


OakMonster said...

My childhood was a bit of a reverse psychology. NOBODY at my all girls school ever said anything about my body/hair/skin etc. Having grown up with friends who don't care one lick about your look was helpful, I think. I embrace my being petite and having no breasts to speak of (well, not really), and conclude that no boys ever liked me because I'm not pretty. But that's totally okay. Having grown up knowing most of my female teachers, including my principal whom I adore, aren't married, I didn't find being single to be a bad thing.

My only critic was my mom. Especially once I came to the US and totally embrace myself, I was getting hit left and right that I should be hiding my giant calves and "fat" hips. At 5 foot tall and 110 lbs., for the summer in Bangkok, I was a heifer in the house.

So I rebelled against all of her judgements and resolved that I'm perfect just the way I am. Sure, deep down I'm still fretting about my hips and calves. But hey, every girl has her issues, right? ;-)

Olaina said...

Oakley, I never think about your hips or your calves. And from a girl who pre-baby had no hips, if I did think about yours I probably would have been envious. :)

Carole said...

Good luck. You might like this quote about pretty and beautiful people.