We had a conversation yesterday that I didn’t expect to have while you were in first grade. I was hoping I’d get lucky and we’d never have a conversation like this, but unfortunately that’s just not the world we live in today. I don’t think you knew how to approach me about it, or maybe you felt embarrassed, but you started the conversation by writing me notes on a little whiteboard we have. “Can I ask you something?” “Of course!” “You know my legs?” “Yes, I made them.” “Do you think they’re chubby?”
You can’t imagine how much this made my heart sink, little B. I wanted to protect you from the world and the body image issues as long as I possibly could. I felt guilty, and still do, thinking maybe I had not complimented or built you up enough in your 6 years.
I stopped the writing back and forth, and told you your legs are perfect, and asked why you would even think that. “My friend at school said my legs are big. And when I sit they go splat.” I first told you that friends don’t say things like that to each other. I so hope that you learn in this life that it is not okay for people, especially ones we consider friends, to critique your body. I will never stop telling you that your body is no one else’s business and I hope that you really, truly hear me. Your opinion on your body is the only one that matters.
Next, I told you that your legs are perfect. I should know, I made them. And God made them. Every person was built perfectly the way they were supposed to be made, and your legs are absolutely perfect. I told you that your legs are built strong, and you need strong legs for how much you dance and run and jump. It is a good thing to have a strong body that accommodates all you want to do. I also assured you that everyone’s thighs “splat” when they sit. If they didn’t, we’d all have logs for legs, and how comfortable would that be? That made you laugh, but I hope you hold on to that forever. My thighs were the part of my body that I was most self conscious of growing up (thanks to a middle school boy telling me they were “cottage cheese thighs” when I sat), and I wish I really would have realized it was silly sooner. If I would have just looked around, I’d have realized that because thighs are built like thighs, literally all of them change shape when people sit. Please realize this. Please never think anything bad about your body shape because it is shaped like a body.
I wish I could follow you around every day of your life and tell you how perfectly you are made. Women’s bodies are magic, no matter what shape or size they come in. I wish I could make you see yourself through my eyes forever. I know the self consciousness will come with time and teenage hormones, and our conversations will get even worse than this one. I wish I could protect you from that. But I hope no matter what, you will always know I’m standing in your corner, cheering your name, and willing to tell you you’re beautiful when you don’t believe it. Every day, forever.
And for now, I will also be cheering your name and yelling at your “friend”‘s mother when I see her next about what a rude asshole her kid is. You have me for yelling at people, too, until you’re old enough to say, “mom, please stop, I think they’re calling the cops.”
Love you always.