Body Image Bootcamp

Today I’m writing a story about body image and I discovered that as much as I talk the talk about building daughters with healthy self-esteem, I don’t actually walk the walk.

Here’s the story of my life: I was chubby until university. Then I got fat. Then I was thin. Then I got pregnant (which can really freaked a thin girl who used to be fat out.) Now I’m not thin, but I’m not as fat as I once was. And I’d really like to be thin again.

If I was at peace with my body image, the story of my life might look a little different, but ask me to describe my appearance and you’ll get one of two answers. “Gorgeous, curvy, striking” on a great day, “fat, blobular and ugly with too big glasses” on a bad one. Most days, I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum — depending on what I’m wearing and how much makeup I have on.

It occurred to me recently that I must be pretty good at faking a good body image though because when I told my husband how great I looked one night he replied (in a mocking sort of voice) “You really don’t have any trouble with self-image, do you?”

Gawd. Men don’t know anything, do they? Doesn’t he know I only said it so that he would echo it and not because I really believe it? (Because he NEVER says it!) Apparently not — and this from the man who knows me best in the universe…Whatever dude.

It’s a very interesting day to be reading all these articles on body image as I myself am feeling very doughy right now. I just got back from vacation and have vowed to resume Weight Watchers immediately — for the 333rd time this year. But, like, for reals this time.

I’m here to say I do gauge my worth by my clothing size and I bet a lot of women out there do. My self-esteem is totally tied up in knots with my waistband and I don’t really know how to change that.

The most interesting party about my research is all the information about how to raise a daughter with a healthy body image. Things like not rewarding good behavior with food, modelling a healthy relationship with food (ie try not to be a constant dieter) and compliment her personality, intelligence and strength as much as you compliment her looks.  I’m reading about pro-ana websites and thinking dear God, do my girls even stand a chance of escaping puberty unscathed by body-image bashers?

Thinking back on my own pubescent angst, I really hope they’re stronger than I was. And is it wrong to admit that I hope they’re thinner?

Because it wasn’t easy being the most highly developed girl in my Gr. 7 class. My nickname was Dana Big Tits and not in a “Gee Dana, you have lovely big tits,” kind of way. More like I was bad and ugly because I had them. Faced with skinny friends in every direction who were better than me (in my eyes) because of their skinniness wasn’t fun. And I hope it’s not something I wish on anyone, especially not my two favourite girls in the world.

PS Weight Watchers works. It really does. I just suck at it right now.