Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Barbie......and self-image

Mike wrote a smackdown article over at Babble. Which is very, good and I apparently had something to say about. While writing my comment, I realized it was really more of a blog post. Rather than hijack his comments, I copied what I posted there and finished my them here:

You know, my philosophy on all of this kind of stuff is; "they covet what they can't have, so anything in moderation."
We'll see how I feel about "moderation in all things" when my girls want to do drugs or underage drinking. But I think a lot has to do with how big of a deal you make of things. If you make a big deal about it (either way/good or bad) your kid will pick up on it & then go from there..some will try to please you & some will do the exact opposite of what you want, cause that's human nature.

In regard to self-image;

Typically, the biggest influence in a girls' life is her mother, not the measurements of their Barbie doll. Kids don't miss much so if you put yourself down, even if you don't think they know, they pick up on it. Our neighbors daughter, 6, informed her the other week that she wanted to go on a diet cause she was looking fat. If we women could get over the idealizations that the media is selling us, then our kids might be able to too. Until we do, it's probably unrealistic to think they will. Sure, I wish I had my 20YO body back, I certainly didn't appreciate it then. I thought I was fat. I'm 5' 7" and I felt myself at a size 6 was FAT. Yeah, I know, but you couldn't have told me different then.

Here's the kicker, my most comfortable time in my life, body image wise, was when I was pregnant. I think that is very telling.

When I weighed the most and wore my largest dress size I was the absolute happiest with my body. To say I LOVED my pregnant self doesn't begin to convey how much I loved the way I looked at that time. Given a choice, I would be pregnant 100% of the time. Ok, I'd like to take holidays and weekends off (so I could drink lots of mulled wine & sangrias, not that I do, but I like to think I could if wanted to.) I happily wore a bikini in the summer and form fitting t-shirts and blouses. If it showed off my "bump" I wanted it. I realized when I was pregnant my body was doing exactly what it was made to do and I loved every minute of it. Talk about confident! I understood the irony of this situation. Normally I'd be wearing a bathing suit that covered much more and would be pulling in all the areas I thought I probably needed more coverage. Now a much larger me was all don the bikkini: "Check me out, I am woman (with child) hear me roar." Well, see me roar.

It was during this time that I decided that I was going to do my best to try and love my body what ever the shape and size even after I was pregnant. It became clear to me that my body image had too much to do with others not myself. My husband has always declared that he loved the way I looked and had never done or said anything for me to doubt him. Then why did I want to "have a flatter stomach, or lose 10 lbs" all the time? Because I was constantly bombarded w/images that told me I should, that's why.

I want more for my daughters. I want them to feel the way I did when I was pregnant, all the time. The only way they would learn is by example. Right now, as young children they are not self-concious at all. After bath time we often have trouble getting them to don pjs. They love to run around the house "nekkid and when we catch up with them, they shake thier booties at us." Guess I should stop encouraging that one, huh? They like it cause it gets a reaction from us. How to you bottle that self-confidence? I wish I knew. But I do think I know how to help prevent it from slipping away entirely, by example.

So now that I've had a couple of kids, and turned 40 (OMG! I'm still reeling from that number a bit, it's only been a month after all,) my body has changed even more. Yes, I do still long for the 20-something days when everything fit, my stomach was flat and gravity hadn't started to have an effect. When I had the body that gravity and time hadn't taken it's toll on and that I never appreciated until it did. But I don't dwell on it. I don't stand in front of the mirror checking out my nekkid self (I said I'm trying I didn't say I was 100% successful yet,) but I don't critisize myself either any more. (I was pretty notorious for this before.) I've been watching some shows like, "How to Look Good Naked", and how I should dress to draw your eye to my "best features" and I've gotten rid of clothes that are to "hide" my flaws. Irronically, I lost 17 lbs this summer. I wasn't trying it just came off. Am I thrilled w/the result? I like that a whole bunch of old clothes (pre-pregnancy) are fitting again, but otherwise, I'm too busy to really care too much.

After all, my daughter will only want to play Barbies with me for so long. Playing Barbies doesn't matter if you're a size 6 or a size 16, just that you can sit on the floor and pull the doll clothes on and off. I've got that part down.