My husband and I started an appropriately named workout video called “Insanity” a couple days ago. If you enjoy spending 40 minutes of your day trying really hard not to have a stroke, then I totally recommend it. After only three workouts I am so sore I can hardly function. I asked my husband today how he was feeling: “OK. I only feel pain when I move.”
I decided to do Insanity for the standard reasons: to look better, to feel better, and to jumpstart my next career move as a skripper. But I’ve also been thinking about setting a good example about body image for my daughter. And this mom making the talk show rounds this week has really made me think about it. She very publicly chastised her clinically obese 7-year-old daughter in Vogue magazine, and put her on what sounds like a mean, mean diet. The mom has written a book that, I guess, has a happy ending because the girl lost weight. And now I guess she’ll treat her daughter with a little decency? I hate that the lesson for this poor girl is that she was fat and then learned some self control, when I think the lesson should be that her mom never dealt with her own body issues and her poor daughter paid the price in a really hurtful (and public) way. And now her mom is making money off of it. It all just grosses me out, and makes me want to eat a big snack.
I read a Jezebel article last week that said women’s bodies are “always fodder for public consumption.” (Read it here – scroll down to the Life&Style recap. And yes, those are free, snarky summaries of all the gossip magazines. You are welcome!) That sentence has stuck with me. And I’m realizing now that it starts YOUNG. I’ve noticed that my son gets compliments about what he’s doing, or what he likes – “That was an awesome fart noise you made,” or, “Wow, you really like farts,” or “Did that sound just come from your body?” – but nine times out of ten, the compliments my daughter gets are some form of, “Aww, you/your clothes/your hair is/are so cute.” And all of those things are true (mostly – she did go through a phase of using her hair as a kleenex, and boogery hair is not always “cute”), but she also makes really good fart noises. What if I said that to some random person after they said my daughter was cute? “I’ll have you know she can rip one, too, jackass.”
Exhibit 1: we visited my father-in-law over Thanksgiving and hung out at his restaurant. My kids were so good, sitting quietly and coloring while my husband and I gorged on free, amazing Chinese food and tried not to look like uppity east coasters. And three different times, three very polite midwestern folks walked by my two kids coloring and said to my son, “WOW, look at that drawing, you are a such an artist!” and then said to my daughter, “And aren’t you just the cutest thing?!” For the record, here is what my son was drawing:
And here is what my daughter was working on:
I MEAN, come on.
J AND L can toot with the best of them. They get it from their daddy.
So true. I have a women’s studies degree/major and I’m raising boys, but feel like I still have to make a conscious effort to compliment my nieces on their skills, imagination, smarts, etc. vs. their cuteness.