Two days after the birth of my fourth child, I sat in a chair in the living room, crying. When my husband asked me what was wrong, I exclaimed that I was fat. It could be said that I as hormonal. It could be said that my body was still recovering from having a human being growing inside of me. However, I felt fat.
Society tells us that we should be skinny. Our bodies should be perfect. If we don’t measure up to the airbrushed, computer-enhanced versions of anoxeric super models, we are unworthy. While we are surrounded by this attitude of unattainable perfection, I want my children to grow up with healthy body images.
As I sat there crying, telling my husband how fat and unworthy I was, I heard my 5 1/2 year old coming down the hallway. I immediately clammed up. I have body issues, but I don’t want to pass those on to my children. My own body issues stem from others. My grandmother, in her fear of being unacceptable, routinely told me how fat as I was as a little child. By the time I was four years old, I understood how unworthy my appearance was, though I wouldn’t even hit the 40 pound mark until I was 7 years old. While I can’t recall my mother ever specifically saying she was fat, I do remember the diets. It was clear that she was unhappy about her appearance.
So, as I struggle with my postpartum self and feelings of unworth, at the forefront of my mind are the four little children who look up to me and watch how I model myself. My words and actions will set up how they decide to view their own body image. For them, I am focusing on getting back in shape and wording my sentences to emphasize being healthy – eating healthy foods in moderation and exercising. I won’t voice, and therefore burden them with, the thoughts that run through my head about myself.
My children self-regulate their food intake. They play hard, exercising strong muscles. They are happy with their bodies, not realizing that according to society, they shouldn’t be, or even that they should be questioning it. i wat them to stay that way.
Thank you for saying this. My mom and I were just talking this morning that telling our children they’re beautiful (as many of us parents do) simply isn’t enough. Our own internal dialogue and body image is much more a part of what our kids stand to inherit than many want to recognize.