I don't own a scale. There's a reason for that.
I watched my oldest get off one and say her weight. I tell her how scales make me uncomfortable because they are not an accurate measurement of anything. They don't weigh muscle against fat. They don't factor in your body type, and they sure as hell don't tell you how healthy you are. They are useless tools of destruction in my opinion. This thought was confirmed when she steps off concerned about a number she views as high.
I stopped her right there and point out that her body is growing, and it's natural for weight to fluctuate during this time. Then I also reminded her that she just grew another inch and a foot size, and that the littles always start to get a little bigger right before they shoot up. I tell her to trust her body and not be too hard on herself. Staying active and eating healthy should be her only objective.
Then she confides in me that the other girls, friends of hers, all take turns talking about how fat they all are.
I immediately have a flashback to college, living in my sorority. Everyone was "so fat" all the time. Living amongst the size 0-6 that were adamant that they were fat every time they stepped in front of the mirror does a number on the healthiest of psyches. Some of the girls ended up with eating disorders, others depression. One of my sorority sisters sadly never recovered, and we lost her about ten years ago. I shared this with her and then referenced it as one of the reasons we have to be so careful not to get sucked in to this.
I then reassured her that she is not fat, that this is not what I want her mind to dwell on and tell her not to take part in this sort of talk. It's so hard to know what to say when dealing with body image, especially as a mom. Sometimes seemingly innocent comments like "I'm not sure that dress is working for us" can be twisted into, "you hate my body," in their minds.
I just discussed this with a friend who maintains our girls need us to be honest. While honesty is my policy, I also think we need to change how we think. Body shaming, on any level, is not okay. While I don't think it's healthy to be overweight, I think we need to be more concerned with how we are treating our bodies rather than how it appears.
Our focus needs to be on nutrition and health. Maybe some parents get sucked in to being critical because they feel on some level responsible. Parents are responsible for their children's health early on and as they grow and start to become more independent we still feel very responsible. Just like their performance in sports and school, sometimes their outer appearance becomes our yard stick for measurement. This needs to be checked, especially if they are staying active and eating a balanced diet. And when I say balanced diet, I mean three meals a day, hopefully with some fruit and vegetables and an occasional side of whatever because they are kids and should able to have a milkshake or pop tart without feeling guilty.
What they need from us is space to be kids and affirmation in the right areas. I'm not sure vocalizing anything critical in regards to body can lead to anything positive. This goes for how we talk about the rest of the world, friends and ourselves. "I'm so fat" needs to die a death. I don't care if you just ate an entire tub of queso. Talk about how you feel sleepy, and maybe that wasn't the best choice. Do not say "Oh gawwwwd, I'm so fat!"
To moms everywhere, please ban this and start affirming yourself and your daughters. Love yourself and watch how you speak. They so desperately need us to show them how to love ourselves. Everyone is beautiful and we all need to be better at pointing out the things we love about each other.
Anything positive you can think of, say it. If we can save them from this ugly self shaming, we must.
Sadly there is so much pressure on these girls, so much pressure to be externally flawless and an internal need to feel attractive. If we don't do everything in our power to squelch these negative thoughts and guard our own language, we run the risk of losing them to a world in which they will never be good enough.
To my daughters, I know it doesn't matter what I think, but you are beautiful, inside and out!
No scale will ever measure your beauty!
You are perfectly made and someone. The right person will find you irresistible (like 20 years from now). Believing this will mean that you won't need the affirmations of the masses either. Remember that you are beautiful, but focus on what matters like being a good person and a good friend. You can never have enough of those.
Lift your fellow sisters up, every chance that you get. Make everyone around you feel positive and empowered, as I am empowering you now with this truth.
You are beautiful.
Now let's go accidentally throw that scale in the river.