Dear sweet child of mine,
You know how sometimes we will have a conversation, and I will talk and talk and talk about something? And you’ll be thinking, Mom? We already know all of this. You’ve said all this before.
Yup. This is going to be one of those conversations.
I heard your friend say that someone told her she was fat. Or at least, they told her she was not thin, and it hurt her feelings. Ugh.
I heard all the parents, too, saying the kinds of things we parents say: Forget about it! You look great! Any skinnier would be too skinny. And anyway, of course you’re bigger than that OTHER girl, she’s younger/shorter/smaller boned than you!
All that is true — to a point — and you know how we parents are. We want to help. We want everyone to feel better.
But those things are only part of the truth. The other part is this.
Some things in our world are messed up, and sometimes our world sends us messed-up messages. You know this.
One of the messages the world gets wrong is about bodies.
Where we live, a lot of people think that there’s only one kind of body that is BEST, and that everybody should try to have that same kind of body. Our world says that everyone should be THIN, as thin as possible, and then even a little thinner than that.
It hasn’t always been this way exactly—at different times, in different places, people have preferred large bodies, or round ones, or soft ones, or curvy ones.
But that’s wrong, too. There is no one body shape or size that is right for everyone. There is no best.
If we say, “Oh, you’re thin enough,” the message still sounds like “THIN is best, but you’re CLOSE ENOUGH TO BEST.” That isn’t right.
Bodies were made to come in all different shapes and sizes, just like bodies were made to have all different eye colors, all different skin colors, all different hair colors. Just like bodies have all different shapes of eyes and ears and noses and lips. Just like bodies have all different sizes of hands and feet and teeth.
We aren’t all supposed to be the SAME. We’re all supposed to be OURSELVES.
The best body for you is YOUR BODY.
We do want to have healthy bodies, because when our bodies are healthy, we can do all the stuff we’re meant to do. The tricky thing is that people don’t all agree about what makes a body healthy.
In our family, we try to eat a bunch of different foods that grow out of the earth, instead of foods that come out of a factory; we try to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full; we try to get fresh air and sunshine every day; and we try to move our bodies as often as we can. If we do those things, we trust that our bodies will be the size and shape they’re meant to be.
We don’t have to be hurt if someone says our bodies are too fat, or too thin, or are scrawny, or chubby, or any other thing.
Or if we DO have our feelings hurt, we can notice it.
We can remember that feelings are just feelings, and that we get to examine each one and decide: does this feeling match what I believe?
You don’t have to hold on to every feeling that happens, and you don’t have to hold on to anyone else’s opinions about you or your body or your work or your self, either.
Just remember this: We don’t need to make our selves smaller, or straighter, or narrower. We don’t need our bodies to be less. And we don’t need them to be more, either. Healthy bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. We just need our bodies to be ours, exactly as they are meant to be. That’s all.
I’ll keep reminding you.
Originally posted May 22, 2014.