I was tempted to title my re-post of this great article “Standing Naked in the Mirror.” But I didn’t want the spam. In writing his post Janell Burley Hofmann does a great service to parents, playmates, friends of children, uncles and aunts, and extended family members. I saw it on Margo’s FB wall and over at the Huffington Post, but it appeared originally at rachelsimmons.com, where I’m linking below:
I am sitting, cross legged, on the bathroom floor trimming my five year old daughters’ toenails. My nine year old son showers his muddy body as I lean against the tub. My three year old daughter wrestles herself into pajamas in her bedroom. My eleven year old son bursts in from football practice and hollers upstairs about reheating leftovers and having a sore throat. My husband is out dropping our minivan off for a tune up. The sun has set and we’re putting another day to rest. In the confusion of this typical weeknight, I glance up from the floor at my seven year old daughter, standing on the step stool, completely undressed, brushing her teeth. I don’t like the way she is looking at herself in the mirror. I don’t like the way she pokes at her belly and frowns at her profile. I watch her for another minute and step in.
“What’s up, girl?” I ask. “I’m fat.” she responds without hesitation. I’m instantly weak. She continues, “My stomach jiggles when I run. I want to be skinny. I want my stomach to go flat down.” I am silent. I have read the books, the blogs, the research. I have aced gender studies, mass media, society and culture courses in college. I have given advice to other mothers. I run workshops and programming for middle school girls. I have traveled across the world to empower women and children in poverty. I am over qualified to handle this comment. But in reality, my heart just breaks instead. I am mush. Not my girl.
I rally some composure and stay cool. “You are built just perfect – strong and healthy.” And she is. But this doesn’t soothe.
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