Sunday, April 22, 2012
I recently joined Pinterest, and one of the things I notice people pinning all the time are motivational pictures. Mainly these are pictures of women, who to me, look like 20 something models. They are very small, in amazing shape, tanned, defined abs, etc. I don't want to rain on anyone's motivation parade, but for me, these images are not so motivating because I think the bodies in these pictures are unrealistic for me, and probably for the majority of population. I have no idea whether those pictures are real or photoshopped.
I have come to terms with the fact that I'm 41 years old, and no matter how much weight I lose, I am not going to look 20. So I tried finding inspirational pictures of women in their forties. I didn't come up with much, to be honest. In every picture I found, again, I found the women to be unrealistically thin, too tanned, too ... harsh looking. I might do some more searching to see if I can find anything.
I know that body image is a big issue for girls (and maybe for boys) these days. Last weekend, my daughter turned 11. My daughter is a girl who doesn't really care how she looks. She has very little interest in clothes, refuses to do anything with her hair other than wash and brush it (and even then, she does the bare minimum). She loves music, making videos, karate, biking and skating. She has a few close friends and seems very happy overall. At 11 years old, she is about 5'3" tall and weighs 110 pounds. She's the biggest kid in her class and has been for a couple of years. She's taller than some of the women in our family already, and I expect she'll be taller than me before long (I'm 5'6"). Of course, for her height, 110 pounds is perfectly reasonable. She has never once mentioned to me being concerned with her size. I was so happy about this, because when I was her age, I was in much the same situation -- I was bigger than all the other kids. I had to wear women's sized clothing when all the other girls were still in girls sizes. It bothered me tremendously. Looking back at my school days book, I have written down that in grade 5 (same as my daughter is now) I was 4'11" tall and weight 90 lbs. I stopped writing down my weight in the book after grade 6 when I crossed the 100 lbs mark.
For my daughter's birthday, she had 4 other girls sleep over. They watched movies, ate junk food, made videos ... typical stuff that she and her friends like to do. When it was time for bed, my boyfriend and I were blowing up air mattresses for the girls. I suggested that my daughter share a mattress with one of her friends -- someone she's know since they were babies -- and my daughter refused. She claimed that she would kick the other girl and they wouldn't sleep well. I tried to reason with her that they had shared a mattress when we went camping last year and there were no problems, but my daughter stubbornly refused to share a mattress. I finally had her come upstairs with me while I got another mattress and asked her why she didn't want to share. She started crying and blurted out that she was "huge" and "would take up too much room". I told her she wasn't huge, but that she was a perfect weight for her height. She told me she hated the word perfect and that she was 110 pounds and it was too much. I tried to explain to her that the other girls are shorter than she is and because she's tall, she will naturally weigh more. She told me she hated being the biggest kid in the class. My heart broke for her. It broke for her because I had hoped with all my heart that she wouldn't have to go through what I went through, and because I had no idea she felt that way.
My daughter is in no way fat. She's just developed early and is bigger than the other kids her age. It was the same for me. But I sometimes think that because I thought of myself as fat, it became a self fulfilling prophecy -- I thought I was fat so I became fat. I hope it's not the same for my girl.
So I'm suddenly even more conscious of body image now. I'd love to find a realistic role model, for myself and for my daughter.
Now I just wonder what I'll have to worry about with my son.