Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Worth of a Girl: Why My Daughter's Weight Is None of My Business

And it's not anyone else's either. Let me explain.

I've written about this before, like here and here, so it's not as if this is a new topic. But as long as society keeps telling people (girls and women especially) what their bodies should look like, I will keep blogging about why I think that's a bad thing.

I grew up with the adults in my life (my grandmother, my father, my mother) constantly telling me I was overweight (I wasn't) and needed to eat less and exercise more. They would police my dinner plate and shoot me "looks" across the table. They said life would be "hard" as a fat girl. They said they didn't want me to "struggle." They sent me to a nutritionist at 13. They meant well. 

And guess where it got them? Nowhere. Well, not exactly nowhere. It got them ten years of eating disorders and a number on the scale--which as I type this blog post--is exactly the same as where they started more than 20 years ago.

That's why I vowed things would be different with my own daughter. 

Oh, she already knows "fat" is bad, because people have already called her fat and "hurt her feelings"--including her very own grandparents. But my job as her mother is to counteract--not reinforce--society's paradigm of the worth of a girl. 

So what--and where--is the true worth of a girl?

The true worth of a girl is in her character. It's in her intellect. It's in the way she treats her friends, her family members, and the people in her community. It's in her self-confidence and her love of math, art, and leadership.

It's not in the size of her pants. It's not in the size of her belly. It's not in how many pats of butter she puts on her pancakes, or in how many boys ask her to the prom. It's not in the well-intended efforts of older people with their own deeply-entrenched body issues who are trying to shame her into being "healthy" because of their own insecurities and prejudices. 

My daughter is healthy. She is active. She knows exactly what she needs to feel full. She knows exactly which foods are nutritious fuel for her body and which are processed junk. I can't make my daughter "skinny" any more than I can make her blue eyes brown. And I wouldn't want to. 

So while my daughter's weight is none of my business, her self-esteem is. And I absolutely refuse to let the former dictate the latter.


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