This is something I have struggled with my entire life. Both my mom and my sister are tiny. Not according to them, but they are. And they have been all my life. I was actually quite thin when I was younger but I thought I was a heifer standing next to my sister who was 98 pounds soaking wet. My mom's mom and middle sister were both thin like she was and the youngest sister was the heavier one. I can remember my grandma harping on her about her weight. For as far back as I can remember. My mom never said anything to me about my weight but she talked a lot about hers. Despite how small she was my mom was on the eternal quest of those last 5 pounds.
I went through high school and college as a fairly thin girl. I'm shaped totally different than my mom and my sister so size 0 was never going to work for me but I was healthy and I looked good, even if I do say so myself. My weight didn't really become an issue until after I had been out of college for a few years. And then I really packed it on. I mean REALLY. And my insecurities soared. And the comments came. "Sweetie, if you would just lose a little bit of weight you would feel so much better." "Your weight is the reason I broke up with you." (Yes. A BOY actually said that to me. He's a winner.) "You lost 5 pounds? You look amazing." (Which trust me, you couldn't tell I lost 10 pounds.) "You're not on your diet anymore? OH."
Some people think that it may have been encouraging to me but it wasn't. All it did was turn on the focus on my weight and drilled even further into my brain that thin=pretty, successful and better person. So back on would come those 5 pounds. And I think because I gained so much weight I have significantly changed my body. In that I will never be "thin" by the world's standards. I don't think I can. I think I have damaged my body with the crazy yo-yoing.
In January of this year I was up again back to that scary number. It was bad. And I felt horrible. Here I was a newly-wed feeling fat, unattractive and honestly didn't want my husband to look at me. Michelle and I had been having a lot of conversations about it, both complaining about our struggles. I decided it was time to do something. Really do something. So I joined Weight Watchers. And I didn't really tell anybody. I didn't want any one's input. I didn't even want their encouragement. Because I didn't want to see and hear the disappointment if I failed. And I wasn't that confident that I would succeed. I'm not going to go into how much weight I've lost or gained or any of that because frankly it goes right back to what we are talking about. Suffice it to say I'm learning to change my life. And I'm also learning that while 150 pounds on someone else might be obese for them, it might not be for me. And I'm okay with that. I'm not even close to were I need to be to have a proper body image but I'm working on it. I do not want to pass this on to my nieces or even if I have a daughter someday. I want them to feel beautiful no matter what their size. I want them to understand that no one is the same and being thin doesn't make you better, it makes you different. I want them to know that using their brain and being kind to others is far more important than the number imprinted on the inside of their jeans.
It's time that we as women bring this to end. It's time to stop pushing these insecurities on our girls. There is a difference between caring for your kid and helping them be healthy or helping them be "thin". It's time that WE STOP COMPLAINING about our weight in front of these young girls. They hear everything we say and they catch on quickly.
As part of the discussion over at Candy Jamamas, Mrs. Manley from Thinking Out LOUD had some recommendations for books to read on the subject. She has read these and thinks they are very helpful with the subject and also for dealing with teen girls.
You Are Not What You Weigh by Lisa Bevere
Beauty Secrets: Tips for Teens from the Ultimate Makeup Artist by Deborah Newman and Rachel Newman
Making Peace with Your Thighs by Dr. Linda Mintle
Think about this today. It's important. And join us for discussion over at Michelle's.