It was brought to my attention yesterday that there had been a conversation between two family members about my daughter. Now, there are a lot of things that can be said about her. She is smart, caring, inventive, loves animals, highly creative, generous, exhausting, dramatic, anxious, and has a mind that is never still. None of these were the subject of the conversation. The talk was about her weight and eating habits.
We are vegetarian. My husband, in fact, is vegan. For clarity sake, that means the girls and I eat no meat, fish or poultry, but will eat dairy products and eggs. Blaine eats none of the mentioned animal products. Because of this choice, we research our food heavily. We make sure the nutritional content is sufficient for our growing girls' needs as well as our own. Between the vegetarian/vegan issue, the food texture issues that abound in our home and my severe food allergies, we take buying and preparing food seriously.
Back to the conversation. The one member of my family told the other one that she was concerned that my daughter was fat and she was going to really have a problem when she was older. She said we needed to stop this vegetarian nonsense and make her eat more protein so she stopped snacking on junk food all the time. The family member this was said to was not please by the conversation.
My daughter was on the competitive gymnastic team at her gym this summer. She practiced, and worked, and sweated for 12+ hours a week in that gym. On top of this, my kids live outside running with a band of neighborhood kids all summer and have to be drug in for dinner, then they are back out until dark. She is the same shape and size now as she was then. I think this is the size her body is and wants to be. By the way, her pediatrician agrees.
Did I mention she is 10. Yes, pre-pubescent 10. She already has some curves going and does have a slightly soft belly. She is compact and little. And she's 10.
What is our weight obsession in this country. Why do we perceive there to be one body shape and size that is the standard and the only standard on which to judge ourselves, our children and each other? Is the standard we have even healthy for all people?
I love the show The Biggest Looser. I have to admit, it is a guilty pleasure. I love watching these people find the strength and confidence that they didn't even know they had. To me the weight loss is secondary to the emotional healing they are achieving. The pounds being shed are just a physical representation of letting go of those past memories and/or pain. There is no doubt that these people are not in a healthy life situation. They are physically ill from complications due to their weight. It is clear.
What about someone who is model thin. We love to look at these people. They are looking good and are to what we should aspire. But, what if they are ill all the time because they do not have a healthy system or enough fat to store energy? What if they are smoking to keep that weight off or obsessively exercising to look that good? Do they really look that good?
What a bout a 10 year old who may be a bit rounder than some of her classmates. Can we accept that? What if she only sees the doctor once a year because she is always active and healthy and never gets sick? What if she is happy and loves fashion and feels good about herself? Can we accept that?
There are clear lines of ill health on both sides of the shape and size spectrum. It's that fuzzy grey area in the middle that's tough. When do we accept ourselves and each other rather than talk behind backs about "problems?" Do we even know what the problem areas are for each other?
That one family member's perceived problems are completely unfounded. My daughter's diet is more well researched than most children's diets that I know. She eats well above the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day giving her plenty of minerals, vitamins and fiber. She eats protein with two meals each day. She is active and we don't keep junk food in our house. So, when she goes to her grandma's she is allowed to go a little crazy with the junk. That's approximately twice a month. Her pediatrician, who has been with her since she was 9 months old, feels she is doing great and is super healthy.
So, the next time you go to pass judgment on someone's size or shape. Ask yourself, to whose standard are you measuring them to? When looking at yourself, ask the same question. Are you happy? Are you healthy? These questions seem a lot better judgement of the right size and shape. So, now, who is fat?
This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.