There are so many things that terrify us as parents. Sometimes those fears are justified, while others are simply a fearmonger’s wet dream. Tonight, I will say that this moment in my child rearing journey won’t result in a well-earned white hair. It will make me worry though.
Let me first set the scene.
I had just finished washing her hair and completed a set of twists at the back of her hair. She wanted a faux hawk, but we did that last week, so I wanted to add a little flair to it with some twists. As I combed out her damp hair, greased her scalp, and proceeded to brush up that section, a Weight Watchers commercial came on. We were watching (happily I might add) the Game Show Network (GSN) because Family Feud was on. Not long after the actress stated her goal to lose her goal weight did my little minion uttered a sequence of words that no six-year-old child should have concerns about.
“One day I’m going to be skinny. I need to lose weight too.”
I have made a conscious decision to not belittle myself in front of my daughter about my weight. I am not skinny. I hold my weight well, but yes, I can afford to lose weight. I have health related issues preventing that from happening. And no it isn’t a “well if you just work out…” situation; it would be nice if my only hinderance was laziness. Still, I am aware that we live in a society that seems to attribute a person’s worth to the number on the scale. I knew long ago that I wouldn’t let my daughter hear me speak of my weight, lest she internalize that message about her own perceived value as a human being and woman.
Still, she uttered the words and I had to hit mute. I don’t know if my response was the greatest one I could have but I hope she knows that she is more than a number.
“You aren’t fat, so don’t say it. You’re six and perfectly healthy. Also, if you worry about anything it should be to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and exercise. Being skinny doesn’t make you healthy. You can be skinny and unhealthy.”
She has always been big and I don’t mean overweight. I mean, she has always averaged in the height/weight range of kids two to three years older than her. As it stands now, she’s pushing the height/weight of the average nine or ten year old. She’s energetic and sweet. She’s a host of other great traits that I may feel simply because I’m biased. Still, she isn’t fat.
I have a feeling that we will have to have this talk again, and I will never look forward to it. I will continue to let her know she is my Pretty Girl, my Sweet Girl, my Smart Girl. Since my goal is to raise a healthy, thoughtful, emotionally available, mentally strong woman, I will do my best to never let her see her worth in numbers on a scale.