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For instance, my late grandparents loved me, of this there is no doubt. They were wonderful, amazing people. My grandfather told me from a fairly young age how beautiful I would be if I would just lose a little weight. My grandmother would let it slip now and then that I would be able to buy much cuter clothes if I were only slimmer. These were comments I remember starting in elementary school. Though I don't recall how I handled them as a younger child, I know by high school I pretended none of it bothered me while silently struggling with an eating disorder. No, I'm not blaming my beloved grandparents for my messed up thoughts on food and weight. I think their words were meant to help and there was absolutely no intention of hurt behind them. But, you take being told you need to lose weight from around eight years old, throw in society's definition of beauty, mix in what media tells us, and it's a recipe for disaster. I am not the only person who has dealt with negative self image, body image issues, and all the other inner turmoil the aforementioned recipe can bring on. As a result, to this day I think I have one set of grandparents who never thought I was beautiful and the other set never made me feel anything other than that. I'm sitting here all teary over that fact because I loved my late grandparents so much and because I am so incredibly thankful that Nanny and Pop never made me feel like my weight was an issue to them.
Okay, I swear I have a point here. Little Miss is going to be a freshman in high school this year. She is already nervous and dealing with body image issues as a result of her birth defect. Enter one person's offhand remark about her gaining weight over the summer and we spent the evening discussing diet and exercise. High school is hard enough without well meaning adults adding fuel to the fire. She's 14, I don't want her on a diet. I tried every fad diet I could find in my jr. high and high school years. We discussed making smart choices, limiting sugar, cutting out sodas, and upping physical activity, all I feel are smart for anyone when it comes to food. It's something I feel we will be discussing a lot in the near future. Sure, I want her healthy, but we are not discussing an obese child here. I also want her comfortable in her own skin and to know that she is beautiful, because she truly is. Her heart, mind, soul, everything that she is makes up one stunning young woman.
I look back on high school and think I'd give anything to be that size again. No, I wasn't stick thin, but I was the same size as Marilyn Monroe and at 35 that sounds pretty darn good! Now my thoughts are just all over. My initial feeling when I started typing was to remind us all just how powerful words are and how they stick with us. I was also all fired up about self esteem and body image, which I still am. I guess I just have questions to. How do I encourage these things while helping her meet whatever goals she has for her weight? Losing a few pounds is her idea and it's nothing I will ever push, but at the same time I don't want her to end up like me, wishing I had gotten in shape 20 years ago. Also, when these little remarks are made, do we let them go or speak up? This is something I'm not sure of.
Teenage girls... I wish I had instructions. OR maybe I need them for life in general. All I know is it comes down to this for me; my daughter is beautiful. And something I've learned is you can be overweight, grey haired, and nearly toothless and still be beautiful. The wrappings concern me little no matter who we are discuss, let me see what's inside. That's what makes you beautiful.