Body Image

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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I know what you mean...Thanks for sharing. Best of luck.
    3190 days ago
    Debby -- thank you! It's a tough thing being a mother, and I always feel as though I'm not quite doing a good enough job. You are pretty much exactly my mom's age! Never hurts to have a second mom, right?

    Holly -- I hear you. I hope that things are easier for my daughter than they were for me. It's worse to watch your kids go through it than to go through it yourself I think. BTW, I read your Sparkpage and recent blog entries. You've done such an amazing job and you will keep the weight off.
    3193 days ago
    OMG, this is a huge fear I have for my daughter. I'm so afraid she'll have body image issues. I pray your daughter realizes that she is completely normal weight for her height. I can imagine how hard it is for her to be taller than everyone in her class.
    3193 days ago
  • DEBBY4576
    My God, you are soooo awesome as a person and a mom. I like everything you say Haha. BTW, I am your mother's age, cuz I have a daughter your age. Can I adopt you?
    3193 days ago
    Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you about diet worries. I remember growing up that my mom was always on a diet, and I'm pretty sure that had a big impact on me. I'm pretty conscious of that with my own kids. I never talk about dieting around them. In fact, I don't diet really, I just try to make good food choices. When I started running, my daughter asked me if I was doing it to lose weight, and I told her I was doing it so I could be in a charity race to raise money for kids with cancer. I hope both of my kids will grow up with the attitude that we exercise and eat healthy foods because it's good for us, and we feel better when we do it. I know that having weight loss as a goal (even though I do), it is often frustrating and tempting to give up when all the right things don't result in movement on the scale.
    3193 days ago
  • DEBBY4576
    Thank you for sharing your worries and fears. It isn't easy raising daughters. I've raised 3, each different. Two average, one extra small. All had different life experiences with their own self image and what others made them feel about themselves. Just be careful you haven't projected your diet worries etc on to her, and she'll be fine. It's having gone thru the same feelings that your daughter has now, that makes you so concerned. If only we could prevent our daughters from having to suffer thru the same insecurities we had uh? You sound like an absolutely wonderful mom. I like that you are trying to look at what the regular women looks like at 41. Give your little girl a hug because they just grow up and are gone so fast.
    3193 days ago
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