You’re Not That Skinny, You Know!

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in All About Jen | 9 comments

When I began to take photos of myself each morning (well, my husband does it, not me), I had decided that not only was it good for me, but that it’d be good for my daughter as well. As a six year old, who just loves princesses, it’s my duty as her mother to remind her as often as possible that skinny doesn’t automatically mean beautiful (you know, like the princesses). I want to be sure she realizes that beauty is more than just how you look, but also that beauty is what you make it to be. (Along with that, we talk about being smart, getting good grades, being nice to people, sharing, and all the other “good parent” topics.)

But as a woman who has had weight issues her entire life, even when I wasn’t *actually* overweight (I’d like to thank my dad for always reminding me I didn’t need that extra helping of food), I’m hyper conscious about my daughter feeling that way as well. My hope is that in 20 years, when she’s a grown woman, living her life, she will know and understand beauty, and feel comfortable being herself. I also hope that she’ll look back fondly on our relationship, and how I loved her, and how I loved myself.

That seems weird to say, but honestly, I don’t want her to write a post (or actually a book) like the one Kasey Edwards wrote titled “When Your Mother Says Your Fat.” I highly recommend you read it, as it will help to understand what I don’t want to do. I want to be nurturing, and help my daughter understand the importance of eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. But my goal is to never make her feel bad, or ugly, or unimportant, or unloved because she’s not thin. I was going to make headway on this goal, by making sure she realized that even though, I’m big, I’m still beautiful (as she actually says to me often.)

Now, this morning, my daughter was having a play date with a couple friends at our house, and then heading to a birthday party in the afternoon. But for some reason she was throwing down some real attitude about everything. At one point while her friends were over, I asked them to stop running in the house before someone got hurt (you know… as you do as a parent). All the kids got a little grumpy about that and mine walked over to the front door and said, “I’m outta here!” We all just looked at her, because there’s a kid-proof doorknob it, and she can’t get out… I may have even smiled knowing she couldn’t go anywhere. But what came next from her, I simply couldn’t have prepared for.

“You’re not that skinny, you know!”

Uh.

*silence*

Her friend looked at me with huge, astonished eyes, then back at her.

“Wait, what did you say?” I asked, wanting to be clear of what I’d heard.

She gasped and immediately started bawling. She ran to her room yelling how sorry she was, and cried on her bed for a while. I didn’t actually know what to do. I was in shock.

Since this morning, she’s apologized several times, and she often tells me how beautiful I am (perhaps as much as I tell her). I’m not actually upset with her at all, I’m finding that I just keep questioning myself, my motives, and trying to figure out what she meant exactly.

Did I do something that I didn’t realize, that made her say that (even when it seemed so random)?
Does she see through meĀ saying I feel pretty, knowing full well that I really don’t like the way I look?
Does she think, that I think, that I’m skinny?
Does she simply know that I worry too much about my weight, so she knew my weight was an easy target when she was angry?

 

I don’t really know the answer to any of these questions, I’m not totally sure I want to know the answer. But, what I do know is that the things I do, say, and feel… affect her as well. She picks up on things, and sees through me, and reads me. I’m pretty sure she knows if I’m bullshitting her. So I need to work harder on getting myself together, because she needs me to, hell I need me to.

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Oh Jen, I am sorry :( Please don’t blame yourself for things like this. Often kids here things from other kids and their minds try to figure things out. When they are young like yours they don’t have the analytic experience to always figure things out.

    I applaud you wanting to help her feel beautiful for who and what she is. I was raised that I couldn’t be attractive or acceptable without being skinny (my mom did NOT do this, but she was a blond, blue eyes bombshell, that didn’t help). It took me until my 30’s to figure out that the looks were not what mattered, but I will never feel pretty and that is sad.

    You are doing the right thing. What matters is that she has a mom that kicked cancer’s ass, that is respected my thousands of people and that works hard and accomplishes so much! You are also a caring person that cares about friends and coworkers. You are a great person and mom and one day when she is old enough to put all the pieces together she will know it and be so proud of you.

    • Thanks Melissa! The more I think about it, I’m sure she just knew that my weight was a touchy subject and said it in anger. This morning we’ve been talking about how strange it is that her doll’s eyes are bigger than her wrists, and how that isn’t normal. She’s all freaked out by it. hah! (If you look at the link above about princesses, that’s one of the topics.)

      For me, my mom was always very supportive of me and my size/weight/etc. It was my dad and brother who gave me really hard times. I’m sorry you had to deal with that growing up!

  2. Jen,

    As I read this, my mind immediately shot back to when I lived in Florida. It was 2009, I think, and me and my wife were headed out to dinner. My oldest daughter, then almost 6, looks at my wife and says “Mom, you look beautiful. Dad…you look…like dad.” I laughed since I had just been teasing her and she was upset, but it was a dull bite.

    Then, in 2012, when we moved to Dallas, she delivered a dig that really stung, even though it was not entirely unexpected: “I know you’re not really Superman, either. You’re just plain ol’ boring dad.”

    I laughed heartily but wondered why she would choose to go for the jugular.

    Sometime later, I asked her about the Superman dig, and she came clean: She said what came to her mind. No malicious intent. No rhyme or reason. And here it was I was thinking that, at least, she was trying to give me a dig she knew would hurt.

    I’ve learned over and over and over that, with little ones, sometimes there really is no clear intent. They aren’t yet equipped to control their emotions; they lack discernment of how that lack of control can manifest itself in hurt feelings.

    RS

    • You’re so right, Ronell. I do think we’re also taught to say nice things to women, but that men don’t “need” it, which just isn’t true. Men are supposed to be “manly” and stoic, so they shouldn’t have feelings, right? I’m glad you were able to talk to her about it, and hopefully feel better about her intentions! <3

  3. Jen, all mothers are queens in the eyes of their daughters. Don’t feel bad – feel good that she responded to her own statement the way she did, that you know better and you’re raising her to know better. She’s going to be a fantastic grown-up.

    • Thanks Ian. :) I think so too! She’s quite sensitive to how other people feel, so I didn’t stay upset, knowing she felt so darn bad about it. I look forward to seeing the amazing woman she’ll end up being!

  4. I applaud your efforts and encourage you to keep it up. Know that our best made efforts are not always enough. I always reinforced positive body messages to my girl, wanting her to have a role model that she could look up to. Despite all
    my efforts, she developed anorexia at 13. We were devastated to find that she was restricting her eating to the point of starvation. It was not about being skinny but rather about being in control. Once it manifests, it’s difficult to stop. I still believe in positive messages, but sometimes even that is not enough.

  5. Jennifer, I understand all the questions you are asking yourself.
    Of course I want to say the same as everyone else, it is not your fault and you haven’t done anything to create this, but
    I think you might have 2 elements on this:
    1- 6 year olds can say some weird things, can’t they? Things that hurt, things that we didn’t see coming. For free, just like that!
    2- Maybe she does sense your insecurities about your body. Mind you, you are a beautiful woman and one can’t always see what the others can. Your friends i’m sure can see the beauty in you that is hard for you to see . We all have it at some point and degree. We spend so much time worrying about our appearance, we worry about everything after we have kids… or I do at least; and a lot of my friends do as well. And so when moments like that happen, and they happen in my house, not about weight but about impatience or tantrum for example, I try to reflect on what i could have said or done that would lead my kids to have a certain behaviour and/or killer comment! The important thing in my opinion isn’t to beat yourself up for something that you never intended to do (assuming that you created something but maybe that didn’t even happen!) but to be reflecting on what you transfer to your kids unintentionally. I am now convinced that I created some insecurities in my own children without my noticing, so it is very important for me at this point of my life to be honest with myself and assume some things that i’d rather ignore… And i see it on my kids when they get grumpy or mad… I see some of my mistakes. Maybe i am beating myself more than i should as well, but at least it can’t hurt to be honest. We all try to be the best parent we can, don’t we? We all want the best for our children. The lesson i am learning these years is the only way to guarantee that is to be happy within myself, my marriage and my body. That’s my best shot at having a healthy kid. Here is my 2 cent in this! Good luck and keep the smile!

  6. Hi, I think that your daughter may have just upset because you scolded her and her friends for running. She knows it is unkind to call people fat so she insulted you by saying “you are not that Skinny” It was safer than saying you’re fat.(Not that you are) It was just something hateful to say at the moment when she was upset and she instantly regretted it, it seems. You may be reading too much into it. She obviously didn’t mean it, but it is good you are being aware of potential issues,

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