Apropos of nothing, my two year old, Claire yells out, "I LOVE MY BELLY!"
This kind of joyous non sequitur is what makes being a mom to a toddler so fantastic.
But just as quickly as my delight and love for my daughter washes over me, I start to wonder when her love for her belly will end.
I know. I'm a buzzkill. Or I read too much news. I prefer to think my doom and gloom is related to the latter, as well as living in a society obsessed with body image. I can't help but remember the article that I read last year that stated that 80% of ten-year-old girls have dieted. Ugh! Or the alarming trend of teens obsessed with measuring the gap between their thighs. Insert jaw drop here.
My own life is not the roadmap that I want for my daughter on the subject either. I think back to my college days and remember that it was easier to count the girls with an eating disorder than the girls without one. My friend's sister died from heart failure at age 22 courtesy of bulimia.
At worst, these issues can be deadly, at best, they can shift a young girl's focus from nurturing nascent parts of herself to obsessing about things that should be a given. I spent just as much time worrying about my looks, as I did about scores on final exams. I look back on my preoccupations as a complete waste of time.
Society's influences today are no help either. Claire will contend with a world of photo retouching, and the speed with which potentially damaging images can be accessed on the internet. Now, the messages are not only hostile, they are truly unattainable and available at an accelerated pace.
Of course, I will strive to be a role model for my daughter. Yet, I still struggle from the aftershocks of the messages of my youth. Can I say that I love my body now? I am in awe of the fact that I made a baby with this body, which is an improvement.
But I'm not yelling, "I love my belly!" anytime soon. That would be absurd.
Why is this affirmation so absurd?
I'm not going to write on and on about this subject. So many other men and women have done it more eloquently than me. In fact, I was hesitant to publish this post, because my views and fears about the subject have become so commonplace as to possibly render them boring.
But I do have a few more personal things to say...
I know my daughter will experience pain in her life. Someone will break her heart for the first time. She will lose a race for student government or the state track meet. A friend will betray her. She will believe she will never recover, and I will be there to tell her that she will. And to love her. These experiences are part of growing up, no matter how much I wish it to be otherwise.
Having to hate her body is not a necessary part of youth.
My mothering impulse is to want to silence whoever or whatever may be perpetrating such needless pain on young girls.
The only problem is there is no one object towards which I can direct my anger. I fear I'm less a lion slayer than someone in the lion's den.
Connect with: Bloglovin', FB, Twitter, G+, Pinterest
Photo Source: Public Domain Pictures