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Every Body is Beautiful

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I was the third born in a family of 3 women. First there was my mother who was often confused with an actress because of her hour-glass figure. She also had both the ability to eat anything she wanted without gaining weight AND an impeccable eye for fashion. In short, she looked like a million bucks whether she was shoveling snow, buying groceries or going out for the evening.

My sister was my mother’s dream child. Thin and pretty her whole life, she spent her babysitting money on Jantzen sweater sets and attracted football players like a magnet.

Then there was me who arrived 5 years after my sister did. Everyone said I looked like my slightly overweight father, had my German grandmother’s knees, and was “the chunky one.” My Dad liked to call me Toni Baloney, with great affection. In our times, this might be considered child abuse, but in the 50’s when I grew up it was just gentle teasing in what was otherwise a happy middle class childhood! But one day years later when I was looking through family photographs of myself as a little girl I realized that I was not a fat little girl at all. I was just an average girl born into a family where the roles for “attractive girl” were already taken. It was not until I went away to school and was part of a bigger world that I realized there are many ways to be attractive and that I’d even learned some of my mother and sister’s fashion sense well enough to know I was able to be “well dressed” when the occasion called for it!

I think what’s important about my story is that it was not me, or my body that changed so much, but my point of view. I now believe every body is beautiful in its own way and it is important to do the work to be healthy to protect that gift wherever we stand when compared with others.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for sharing...there seems to always be the time in the life of a woman when we feel so inadequate...not realizing just how much we are in perspective.
    1963 days ago
    It's funny how in families that once a role gets assigned (beauty, thin one, seamstress, the smart one) it somehow seems to make that quality or talent unavailable to others in same family. In my current family of math whizzes I have to remind myself, and them, that I can add and subtract!

    Maybe we need to challenge ourselves to take on the roles and activities we want rather than the ones assigned in our early families.

    1999 days ago
    I grew up with a tall willowy mother who couldn't gain weight to save her life. When it became apparent that I was not going to be any taller than 5'2" my mother announced that I was going to be a fat adult like my short fat aunts and grandmother. That stuck with me, and I have had eating problems ever since although I did not become overweight until 6 years ago. My mother is still very thin at 72, and I feel dumpy and gross around her. It is a blessing we live far apart and I only see her every other year. We have a decent relationship long distance.
    1999 days ago
    I grew up with two beauty queens. I was the short tiny one. I was able to eat anything I wanted and not gain weight, but I was only 5 feet tall and had a hard time finding clothes that didn't make me look like an old woman or a little kids. My mom and sister were both gorgeous and had that sense of fashion that you talked about. I always felt like the ugly duckling.

    I don't see myself that way anymore, but there are days when that little voice in my head says something nasty to that awkward teen from years ago. I acknowledge the feeling, breathe and then move on.
    1999 days ago
  • SPEEDY143
    Beautiful... just like YOU!!! It takes a long time to feel comfortable in our skin no matter what size we are. I have those german knees, thighs and ankles too, they must be dominate emoticon Love your blog emoticon

    emoticon Linda
    2003 days ago
    Your words reminded me of my childhood. I was "Fatty Patty" according to my grandmother. Thanks for sharing--your words are spot on.
    2005 days ago
    This blog reminds us of a terrific point. Will vote for it - very helpful. Thanks!
    2005 days ago
    Great blog!
    2006 days ago
    Yes, what the mind sees is so related to how others look at us, and not always honest.
    2006 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing this. It's so easy to distort our image of ourselves.
    2006 days ago
    Powerful example of how body image can become distorted and set in our minds, often at a young age. Sadly, many struggle with their body image to this day. Great post. Thanks!
    2006 days ago
    Yup - my sister was "the pretty one" and I was just sort of generically cute. Took a long time for me to realize I was just pretty in a different kind of way.
    2006 days ago
  • LINDA7668
    Thanks for posting this! It really struck home. Although my parents were obese, my sisters were thin and my brother was athletic as kids. Then there was me- I was told I was "chubby". As I look back at old photos, I realize now that I wasn't as fat as my family made me feel.
    2006 days ago
    Well said!
    2006 days ago
    Haha, I too, have my German grandmother's knees (thighs, calves...).

    It's taken me years to come to grips with the fact that no matter how much weight I lose I'll never have those perfect legs.
    But I'll tell you one thing, those legs I have can do 25-mile hikes with ease :)

    Great blog.
    2006 days ago
    As a boy growing up the pressure was to be athletic. Your sister attracted football players, which in our society defines the attractive male. None of this makes a lot of sense. Kindness and intelligence take a backseat to throwing a ball, or for a woman having that perfect figure.

    Was a big clumsy kid and longed to be one those supremely confident athletic kids. Girls wouldn't give me the time of day. My dad was a college football player and my mom was a champion swimmer. I just thought the genetics didn't take. I was wrong.

    Funny thing when I look at your photos, I see a really pretty woman.


    2006 days ago
    emoticon home.
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ― Oscar Wilde
    2006 days ago
    Very well stated. As an only child I never experienced personally what you described, but I do remember a family of 2 girls where people referred to the "pretty one" and her sister. Very sad.
    2006 days ago
  • 62NVON
    Hear! Hear! Let's stop comparing ourselves to others all around. We are unique individuals.
    2006 days ago
    Your comments are so completely to the point -- and well written. I would love to see this entry featured on SparkPeople.

    It's a great reminder (both for young people raising children and with older ones still living with the bitterness) that when the "roles are already taken" in one's family, we can't fill them ourselves, and the hurt begins.

    Thanks for this.
    2006 days ago
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