Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ideals

AFter digging around in some old boxes labeled "JON STUFF", I found a treasure trove of memorabilia from my husband's childhood and teen years. Newspaper clippings. Baseballs. A glove. And a random teeshirt that I'm not sure why we're saving.  I also found a few papers stapled together, with "Dear Diary" on the front, dated May, 1984.

A glimpse into the mind of an 11-year-old boy:

How tall do I want to be?
6 feet 6 inches

How much do I want to weigh?
230 pounds

Someone likes himself some baseball.

My favorite things to do are...
sports, reading, board games

But...

I like
music? NO
art? yes
gym? yes
library? NO!

And...

Two things I don't like about school are:
library
Mrs. Foster

(Poor Mrs. Foster.)

I would like to earn $500,000 a year.
I would like to own a Porsche.



I'm glad I met him. He has some high aspirations. Although I still haven't seen that Porsche...

When my daughter read this, she laughed, but she must have thought it was a pretty good idea to write a diary about yourself, because she made one of her own, and then answered all the questions. When she asked me how tall I am and much I weighed, I didn't think much of it, but answered her in the most truthful way I could. With a number that best represents me. (Like, I weigh this much in the morning when I haven't eaten anything and I'm not weighed down my clothes or shoes and I'm not carrying extra water weight and my hair isn't wet from the shower and I'm only stepping on the edge of the scale. This is how much I weigh.)

She was pretty anxious to tell me about her "diary", and we went through it together.

How much do you want to make?
$50,000

What do you want to be?
a judge or a lawyer and an English teacher

(I see a grammar Nazi in her future.)

How many kids do you want to have?
5 or 6

How much do you want to weigh?
The exact same as my mom.

I just stared at her, smile frozen on my face.

Mind. Blown.

I kind of looked at her out of the corner of my eye, because her answer surprised me. Her ideal weight is what I weigh? How many times have I looked in the mirror and been intensely dissatisfied with my weight, pinching myself here or there, wishing I was a little thinner here and there and everywhere. Not when she's around, of course, but that doesn't mean that she's not reading all the evidence of discontentment that I think I'm hiding so well.

Emotions slammed against my heart--guilt, embarrassment, shame, maybe even a little bit of pride.

How many times have I silently--because you don't need words for this language--told her that the weight she thinks is perfect isn't good enough--for either one of us?

Our girls need to see a generation of women who are embracing themselves with love and acceptance, not pinching their thighs because they don't match what they see in a catalog. Even when we don't think that they notice, they do. They are paying attention to how we carry ourselves, to the things we care about, and they are taking their cues not only from the rest of the world but from their mothers and aunts and grandmothers and cousins and all the women that they are close to. Our girls are learning from us. What do we want them to take away?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
{try, colbie calliat}

I don't want my daughter to live with a lifetime of self-reproach as she tries to fit into a mold that someone else has made for her. I don't want her to live hating herself because she thinks she needs to lose weight. I want her to be free from the bondage that comes with those issues. I want her to show herself some love.

The example starts at home.

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