I watched Colbie Calliat’s amazing new video Try over the weekend. It literally brought me to tears. I immediately showed it to my three daughters, followed by this video from last year which shows an average-sized woman getting photo-shopped into a model. It was time to teach them about the real world.
They thought it was interesting, but I’m not sure if it hit home for them yet. They don’t look through a lot of fashion magazines, don’t watch much beyond the Disney channel, and right now their idols are more like Abby Wambach (a U.S. soccer play) and Taylor Swift than Gisele Bundchen or Miley Cyrus. For now.
But I’m not going to take any chances when it comes to my girls’ body images. According to a study announced in February of this year from the National Institute on Media and the Family, about 40 percent of girls ages nine and 10 have tried to lose weight.
Seriously? Four out of 10 girls.
It gets worse. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders suggests that eating disorders typically start in the teen years, but may begin as early as age eight. Eight years old.
My youngest is eight. Her older sisters are 9 and a half. I don’t have much time.
I don’t have much time to convince them that they are beautiful regardless of their weight. I don’t have much time to show them that they are more than the clothes that they wear and that make up should enhance their looks, not conceal them. I don’t have much time to hope they understand they don’t have to try so hard to fit an image or a beauty mold. And I don’t have much time to protect them from judgement, from peer pressure, from the media, from their “friends.”
So, because I don’t have much time, I will continue to try and show them. I will show them that their mother is comfortable in her own skin and that their father loves her no matter what her size. I will encourage them to love food, but more importantly, understand it — how it fuels the body, how it makes your skin glow, how good food tastes. And I will demonstrate Photoshop, talk about pictures in magazines, and avoid stores that don’t sell to “real” girls.
And we all say we will do these things, be that mom, live that life; but yet it is so hard. So, so hard to be the example I want to be for my girls.
Earlier this week when I received a compliment from my good friend about how I looked, I responded with: “Ugh. Thanks but I feel awful. I haven’t been working out and I’ve been eating like crap.”
My friend responded in kind when I told her how healthy she looked after changing her diet: “Blech. I’ve just gained three to four pounds.I know I’ll lose it but I just feel blah.”
Between us we have five beautiful daughters, are successful in our jobs, have great marriages and are just plain happy. And neither one of us could just say thanks after receiving a compliment about our bodies, although both of us live healthy lifestyles.
So why can’t we admit it to anyone else? Why is it so hard, especially as women and more importantly, as young girls, to like ourselves, to not care what others think, to not try so hard just to focus on our looks.
Colbie Calliat’s lyrics say so much. “When you’re all alone by yourself do you like you?”
Maybe that’s where I will start. For me — and my girls.