I read Courtney Kendrick's blog this morning before work, and, frankly, it's taken me this long to figure out what I think about it. In italics, here's an excerpt:
My mother wrote my baby book as if it were me. About my body she wrote:
...At two, "When I turned two I got real chubby. I love bread, sweets and all things that make me fat!"
...At four, "I have been a healthy girl this year, Mom says my only problem now is my weight!"
...At six, "I'm a picky eater but I'm getting better. I'm still chubby in the face but I am slimming down everywhere else. I LOVE TO EAT!"
At seven, "Mom is telling me to watch my diet. I really like fattening foods and I don't like meat."
I love this blog, and I am so fond of the blogger (whom I've never met, by the way). I read her blog daily, and while I've loved some of her posts in the past, this is the first one that I really couldn't stop thinking about.
I remember being in the third grade and wishing my knees were knobbier.
I remember a female relative telling me that the "proper" proportions for a woman's legs allowed the side of a quarter between the ankles and a dime between the knees. I remember that same relative asking me if I weighed more than my mom when I reached her height.
The issues that we as women have with our weight and our bodies have deep roots, and their formation begins in childhood.
My mother - all of our mothers, really - walk a fine line (I rush to add that mine does it brilliantly). A fine line of teaching acceptance of our bodies, and of the inherent beauty therein, and, at the same time, guiding us toward a path of a healthy, active lifestyle.
Too much acceptance and we want ice cream for breakfast. Too little and we're focused on the numbers on the scale.
"Your body is perfect, exactly how it is" followed by "exercise four times a week for optimal health!"
I don't know what the answers are - I can't even figure out the questions. I'm not a mother, and if I'm ever blessed with a daughter, I don't know how to make sure she grows up on the right side of perspective. But what I do know, is that in many women's childhoods, there are a few defining moments - specific events that you can pinpoint twenty years later, where you shake your head and think, "I'm not going to do that. I will do things differently". And isn't that the point? A healthy body image is an evolving thing - and along with our daughters and sisters and mothers, we can learn to accept (and embrace) that what we are and what we want to be don't have to be at odds. And if we do it right, we'll learn as we go.