I watched her that morning. I've always liked watching her dance and twirl, the smile on her face stretching from one ear to the other. So I stood and watched as she paraded around the room, first in circles and then back and forth across the floor space.
That morning was different though. That morning, the smile wasn't as big, the parade not as flamboyant, the eyes not as sparkly.
I wanted so badly to march in, scoop her up and ask what might be wrong. But I stood and watched some more.
I watched as she walked from the bed to the dresser and stood in front of the mirror. I watched as she sucked her stomach in, pushed it out, sucked it in again.
Then I heard, in the faintest whisper: "I don't think I'm fat".
And my heart broke into a million pieces.
You see, she is my daughter and she's only 9. Since the day she was born, she's only ever known her mother to be overweight, but she has always been a healthy weight. A tall, slim 9 year old built of solid muscle, there isn't anything remotely fat about her but somehow, some way, it has crept into her consciousness that she might be.
And that breaks my heart.
When I hear that some little boy at school has told her she has a fat bum, I want to wash his mouth out with soap. When I see her and her friends flicking through magazines and looking at the celebs with their personal trainer bodies and perfectly tailored clothes, I want to rip them out of their hands and scream "they aren't REAL!!".
You see, I've always tried to foster a healthy body image in my daughter. I haven't been the best role model as far as eating and exercising but I'm trying to remedy that. I have always attempted to make sure she knows that being healthy and strong is important, not the size of your body. We've talked about beauty vs brains (she happens to have both), healthy eating, everything in moderation, blah blah blah.
So WHY was she standing in her room, in front her mirror and talking about being fat?
Because already society's ideals have started to permeate that little brain of hers. She watches tv and hears the girls on shows going on about being skinny. She sees the pictures in magazines. She hears the older girls at school obsess about their appearances and their bodies.
It needs to STOP!
I can't shelter her from everything, nor would I want to. All I can do is offer a different perspective on it all and hope it sinks in.
I don't want my daughter to be like me. I want her to make smarter, better choices. I want her to grow up to be smart and beautiful (inside and out). But mostly I want her to be healthy; I want her to be strong. I want her to be what she has always been......
We need to stop feeding our girls the same old bullshit! The magazines and the celebrities and the fashion industry need to stop promoting the "you must skinny" ideal and start promoting the "you must be healthy" ideal.
Whether that means you're a size 2 or a size 16, I really don't give a crap.
Be healthy. Be amazing. Be fit. Be strong. Be true to yourself and your body.
But whatever you do, stop feeding that bullshit to my daughter because this little girl? She's awesome and she doesn't need to worry about being fat....she needs to worry about having fun and when her next sleepover is gonna be!