Vent Sesh: Body Image

April 25, 2012

Another Vent Sesh coming your way! While I know some of these “seshes” can be weighty, I hope you leave these posts feeling inspired, encouraged or even with a slight mind-shift to a topic you hadn’t thought about before. I was so touched when someone recently shared that they never thought about how harsh it might be to ask someone when they’re getting pregnant or married until reading a Vent Sesh on the topic. It sounds innocent enough yet the answers can be so deeply personal.

For this Vent Sesh, I’m compelled to touch on body image. This has been on my mind for months because I have been told on multiple occasions (mostly from older generations), right in front of my daughter, that “oh look how she’s slimmed down” or “her cheeks don’t look as chubby as they used to” and other similar comments about my two and a half year old. Yes that might be true, but, umm, hello, she’s standing right there and she soaks it all in. ALL of it.

I never want my daughter to think she’s anything less than perfect especially when it comes to her looks or her brains. I’m sure they’ll be moments we’ll have to deal with down the line of others making her feeling inferior (awful to think about) yet it should never come from her family or loved ones. Trust me, I know this is all said so, so innocently yet it got me thinkingis this how it all starts? Is it at such a young age that we start to consider our body image and wonder what needs to be thinner, better, less chubby? Granted my little girl doesn’t realize all of this now, but she will.

And, at our age, in our 20s, 30s, 50s and 70s we are constantly bombarded by others around us, comparing, comments, and insults to ourselves. It reminds me of the Mean Girls movie moment where they all stand around the mirror and insult themselves and Lindsay Lohan’s character realizes she needs to find and vocalize faults in herself to fit in.

I could rant on and on about body image yet I just needed to use this forum for one minute (ok, maybe three to five) to share how important it is that we are always highlighting the best in each other at age two or 72.  And, not in some backhanded compliment sort of way. Genuine, heartfelt ways.

Does this make sense or am I crazy mom? Maybe a bit of both? Would love for you to comment below with your thoughts.

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  • PennyPincherFashion

    This is so true!  I can specifically remember several times as a little girl when my mom would say seemingly innocent things like, “Kimmy, suck your stomach in (while taking a family Easter picture)” and “Wow, your stomach looks big after eating all those pancakes”.  For lots of people, those wouldn’t have an impact, but because of my perfectionistic nature & people-pleasing tendencies, it was the breeding ground for what became a severe eating disorder.  I’m thankful to be completely recovered now, but I am still very sensitive to what people say to my 8-yr-old daughter and how it affects her (because she is big-boned and tall like me) - I don’t want her to go through the same things that I did.

  • Bri

    I don’t think you are a crazy mom, I think you’re a sweet mom, which is one of the many, many reasons I love this blog. I’m not a mom yet but I had this moment last week when I was overwhelmed with fear. I am not thinking of having kids just yet but I’ve always wanted a little baby girl and I was reading all these articles about women, body sizes, gender roles etc and I started to think, “I don’t want a little girl-I don’t want her to go through all of this crap.” It is a very different world than when I was a kid with the internet and social networks there are so many more opportunities for women or girls to view themselves as a comparison to others and start to feel bad about their body or lifestyle. I think it’s important to celebrate your daughters, sisters, friends and mothers for their individuality and I am so happy to see other thoughtful women discussing these issues because it is something that has plagued me for awhile now.

  • Cheryl

    Not crazy at all!  It’s an increasing problem for females (of all ages) to look a certain way.  And there are people that can’t seem to understand that children of all ages and sizes should be told how beautiful they are.  It builds confidence and teaches them that beauty comes in all forms.  I was chubby as a kid, and had an uncle that called me “Chubs” until I was old enough to tell him to cut it out myself.  To this day, I refuse to have anything to do with him.  What an awful thing to call a 6 year old - and for my mom to never intervene all those even worse.  And that Mean Girls mentality?  Some people never grow out of it - and they try to spread it to other people to make themselves feel better.  Ugh!            

  • Fashion By Alicia

    I don’t think you are crazy!  I think it is important to point out things that certainly can cause problems in the future.  I still have issues with things that were said to me when I was in middle school that were down right mean.  

  • [email protected]

    I think it’s totally reasonable that you take notice of things like that and think about the possible affect.  But I agree that people mean absolutely nothing by that at that age.  Just that it is interesting the stages babies go through (Mine weighed the exact same from 7 mos to 17 mos!  Chunky to teeny, it was crazy.) and they feel like they are letting you know that they remember and notice your child and her changes.  

    I completely agree with the sentiment behind it though!  I don’t have a girl, but I am very aware of friends that do that talk constantly about “dieting” and “fat” etc….I think it is really really bad.  I have to make a conscious effort not to do that in front of my boy, who will most likely not be tremendously affected, but I still think it’s important to eliminate that type of conversation completely and focus on the word “healthy”.  My 2 cents!

    • [email protected]

      I just realized that I misused effect/affect 867 times in this comment and I want to stab my eyes out.  That’s all!

  • Jordan - Queen of LA

    i know that YOU know this - but your little girl is seriously beautiful. like, stop-you-on-the-street-to-compliment-her beautiful. and she will grow up to be smart and strong and sweet just like you, because youre the type of person who will make sure that her insides match her outside! 

  • Heather Pranitis

    I receive your posts via email and was absolutely shocked when I read this.  I was like “wow”. Simply stated this “is” how it all starts.  And I most certaintly do not think you are being a crazy mom whatsoever. I think it is pretty fabulous that you want your daughter to think she is perfect and always feel this way.  I’m 35 and my Mom is pretty great about letting my sister (she’s 29) and I know that she thinks we are perfect etc.  That’s what Mom’s do.  However, we do live in a somewhat cruel world at times…too bad there wasn’t so much pressure put on body image.  Great post! I’m glad you wrote about this and how important it is to talk about things like this.

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