Something very disturbing happened a few nights ago with my daughter. She was in the bathroom and she called me in and asked me this question: "Mommy, am I fat?" WHAT?????!!!!!! Keep in mind she is 6 1/2 years old and that the word "fat" is considered a bad word in our house.
I don't know that I really handled it well. I said the first thing that came to mind. "Where did you hear this from? You are 6 years old! You shouldn't be thinking about this! Where did you hear this from?" I know I repeated the last question but I was in shock and angry - I wanted to have her stop watching whatever show she saw it on, or stop reading the book, or stop hanging out with the "friends" that said something...you get the picture.
She assured me she hadn't heard it anywhere. She just looked down at her belly and squeezed it so that cute little rolls were between her thumb and her fingers. Then she said she thought she was fat. Of course this got me boiling again. I felt mad at TV, at society, at books, at magazines - for having my SIX year old daughter already worry about this!!! It killed me to hear her say that she was anything less than what she is - a beautiful little girl.
But I pulled it together enough to tell her that she was NOT "fat." I explained that most of her pants have the adjustable waist because she's so skinny. I also told her I didn't want to hear her talk like that again. Then I hugged and kissed her and she brushed her teeth and got into bed. Meanwhile, in my head...
Did I handle that well? No, I did everything wrong! What should I have said? What is the "right" thing to say? I can't believe she's already worried about how she looks! I thought I was doing such a good job of building her up. What happened? Where did I go wrong? I thought I was teaching her that it's what's inside that's important. That who she IS is more important than what she looks like. What about all those times I've seen her in front of the mirror, primping and preening and I didn't say anything? I should've said something! All those poses she does, pretending she's Hannah Montana, I should've made her stop that. Maybe I should remove the mirror from her room?
But I didn't say any of that to her, instead I just told her that I didn't want her saying anything like that again. (Brilliant right?) Then she lays this on me, "I just said that because I thought you'd laugh Mommy." !!!!!!!!What???!!!!!!
Whether that's true or not, I don't know. But one thing I do know, I'm going to pay a lot more attention to how she looks at herself in the mirror and about what kind of images she sees around her. As her mother, it's my job (for the next 12 to 50 years) to build up her confidence in who she is - inside and out.
Wish me luck!