The always insightful MizFit has an awesome post today about this book, You'd Be So Pretty if...
II haven't read it but I know that it is a MUST read for everyone, dudes included.
I know I'm not the only chick who's ever been afraid that she's going to mess her kids up in a zillion possible ways. But something about the topic of body image and acceptance really strikes a chord in me. It's no secret that I dabbled with an eating disorder for many years. And I have spent thousands of dollars in therapy wondering where it came from. I would be lying if I said my mother had nothing to do with it. No, I don't blame her for it. But watching her eat in secret and then not eat at all and then go on an Arby's binge definitely set the stage for my bizarre relationship with food. It was like food was evil, or bad, and would inevitably make me fat.
My mom was 130 pounds when she married my dad. I hit 130 in like, 7th grade. As a mom struggling with her own weight, that must have been disappointing for her on some level. Maybe she was trying to protect me from the name calling and the ostracizing, but to me it felt like disapproval.
She never shied away from saying things like "you could live off the fat of the land for awhile" and she never, ever let me wear horizontal stripes. She never outright called me fat, but I knew what she thought. I knew by the way she looked at me when I decided to have a Pop Tart for a snack instead of an apple. I knew when I'd try on clothes and she'd give me this look of disgusted indifference as she said "its just not flattering." At first, I hid behind food. But after years of being picked on, not having a boyfriend and never being able to borrow anyone's clothes, I turned away from food altogether. I clearly had no willpower to only eat good things so I decided to just not eat at all. But I didn't have the willpower for that either, and thus I began the life of a "functional" bulimic. Sure I was a cranky bitch all the time, but I was thinner than I had ever been and it was worth it. Then.
When I look back I am horrified at how it all transpired. I was so conscious of what I was doing; it was like some giant cost benefit analysis of my life. That made me cry a lot.
I see now that there was a definite lack of education around food for my sisters and I growing up. And our only feminine role model was painfully insecure and unhappy herself. We didn't exercise; no one in our family did. Because when you're 6, you can only ride your bike up and down the driveway so many times by yourself...
I do think that I have a healthy relationship with food now. I'm not skinny, but I'm active and healthy and slowly learning to appreciate all of the amazing things that my not skinny body can do (I've heard childbirth is going to be a breeze).
But I'm still a little nervous. Because I know that healthy active lifestyles start at home. And they start before the baby is even born. Am I properly equipped to raise healthy, active, intelligent children who love themselves? What will I do when my daughter comes home crying because some 6th grade boy called her fat? What will I say? How do I suggest a healthy alternative to a Twinkie without judging, or hurting feelings, or adding in all of the personal meanings that a suggestion like that would hold for me?
I have given up my disordered eating, for sure. But there is a part of me that knows if things get REALLY bad and I get REALLY fat, I always have it to fall back on.
Messed up, I know.
But I also know that having kids takes that fall back plan out of existence. Kids see, hear, sense and REPEAT everything (if you don't believe me, I'll introduce you to my nephew, Nathan). I know that to lead by example means that I don't get to take the easy way out. And that makes me a little nervous, too.
But in a good way.
So if I don't win the book on her site (because, I seriously never win ANYTHING), I'm going to buy it. And when I'm done, I'm going to make Andrew read it, even if I have to hold him down and paper clip his eyes open.
Because this is a topic far too overlooked in this age of airbrushing and Top Models and Maxim. And it is about time we (men included) started to have a conversation about it.
And because I don't want any daughter of mine (or yours, or anyone) to go through what I(and millions of other women around the globe) did.