Something happened last night that may not seem like a big deal to some, but it caused me great concern. I have tried as hard as possible, since my girls were just babies, to be very careful about what I say about myself or anyone else concerning body image. I have never complained about my weight or called myself fat in front of my daughters. Even when I was working on losing weight I discussed with them that I wanted to be healthier, I never used the word 'skinnier'. I make a conscious effort to let them know how beautiful they are. I do not want body image to ever be an issue for my children. I want them to know that they are beautiful and special and be confident in who they are.
Last night Emma came to tell me that something was wrong with Bridget and that she was crying. I asked her to come talk to me about it. When I asked her what was wrong she told me, " I'm sad because I think I look fat.... When I breath my tummy puffs out and is fat...I'm not skinny like Emma. She is skinnier than me."
Bridget is 5 years old! I cannot even imagine why she is worried about these things already. Especially when I make such an effort to help my kids feel good about themselves. I was absolutely devastated by this conversation. I know that my efforts don't keep her from hearing comments from other people or on television, but it is amazing to me that the issue has become so important to her at the age of 5.
I am making a plea to the world. Can we all please pay a little more attention the the 'off-hand' comments we throw around? Can we recognize that how we feel about and deal with all areas of life serve as an example to the children around us? If they are always hearing about how important body image is to us and the rest of the world, the only conclusion they can come to is that their body shape and size not only matters, but is a measurement of what they are worth.
I hope every day that I can do enough, as a mother, to let my children know how amazing they are. I'm sure I will have to have this type of conversation many more times with all 4 of my daughters. I dread every one of them!
If you happen to see Bridget sometime soon, please tell her how beautiful she is!