Friday, July 27, 2012

As Compared To What

I'm tall (5'8"+), for those of you who don't know me in person. Historically, I have also been very thin. I'm more of an average build these days which I am not exactly thrilled about, but I'm also well aware that I'm within the healthy weight range. As a kid, I was super scrawny and hated it. I have a picture that was taken from behind while I was horseback riding and most people who see it guess my age at about 12 or 13. That picture was taken when I was 21. In college, I was this height, a size 2/4 and thought I was fat.

Too skinny. Too fat. Too tall. (turns out i was just too crazy)

Right now, our daughter is exactly where I was at her age. Super slender, taller than everyone she knows, and starting to slouch. She doesn't talk about it much, but I know what she's thinking about wanting to not be skinny, and how I wish I could open up her head and pour my knowledge and experience with this into it. But since that isn't possible, I've tried to reiterate to her that she is exactly how she needs to be right now, she comes from parents who were both very thin kids, and that one day she will be very happy that she is made this way.

Not to be left out, our son, who still has the teensy-tiniest bit of the baby belly (just enough to poke out when he's eaten, thinks that he is "chunky".  His words. Will is almost as slender as Celi - like we have to buy slim pants or the kind with the adjustable waist. He could wear some of his clothes forever because he just got taller, never wider. He also hates his amazing blond curls and wants to have "straight brown hair" instead.

I swear to all that is holy, that we have never put them down, and have never said anything other than positive things about the way they look and who they are. Personally, I am an awful self critic but I really try not to voice these criticisms around the kids. Where, then, did this issue originate? It scares me for all kinds of reasons that probably go without saying - anorexia, bulimia, insecurity, and a host of others. Why do they feel they are they not enough, even at the tender ages of 8 and 10, and despite the best efforts of their parents? I feel like a failure in this regard. We have tried so hard to ward off body image problems et al and yet here we are. It's very disheartening and scary.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start preaching on this blog, but I have always liked the verse in Psalms where David writes, "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." I believe this is true. The human animal is the most complex and amazing thing on the planet, and yet we look in the mirror with a mental red pen, marking all the things that are wrong. We tell our children that there is only one of them, ever, and that is the honest truth. Biologically, you are the only you there ever is or ever will be, and yet we are always "too" something, or not enough something else. Why is it so hard to believe this? Is this an American thing? Anxiety thing? I don't know but I don't like it.

We KNOW that comparing ourselves to others is ridiculous, yet we don't quit (well maybe some of you do - if you are one of these people, by all means, please tell me your secret). If we were all meant to be exactly alike, we would be exactly alike, right? But I still want to be thinner, wealthier, prettier, smarter, funnier, etc, and apparently my children do too.  In thinking about this post, I wandered around the Internet and found this and it really resonated with me. Be your best self because really, that is all you can do. Comparing with someone else is a totally fruitless exercise because we can never BE someone else, no matter how hard we try.

Does anyone else struggle with this? Do your children? Please, talk to me.

And because it makes me feel good every time I watch it, I'll leave you with this:

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Karen said...

LOVE this! we are all perfect in our imperfections. (p.s. hi BFF)

bereccah5 said...

Thanks Karen! How are you? I mean, just because we're BFFs and all, doesn't mean I don't need an update every now and then. ;-)

Claire Lopez said... starts so young. But I also received the message early in life that my body wasn't OK. There's the (like Barbie with completely unrealistic proportions)....friends and/or parents of friends..... It's all over and it makes me sad that these precious children don't think they are "enough" just as they are.

bereccah5 said...

It's extremely frustrating and scary. And it makes me sad too.