Maybe it was the ’80s or just my situation, but growing up, I noticed a lot of body talk among adults. Mostly by the women, but sometimes by the men.
My gorgeous grandma always dressed up and was always on a diet.
I remember a babysitter who was supermodel gorgeous not eating this or that because she didn’t want to get “fat.”
Once, during my freshman year of college, my grandpa commented that I “had gained some weight.”
As an adult, a compliment I often heard if my weight fluctuated slightly was, “You look great, you’re so thin.” Or the dreaded, “I’m so proud of you for finally losing that baby weight!”
And these are GOOD people with GOOD intentions, I know that.
But the message is that there is a good and a bad type of body to have.
The sentiment just isn’t true—and seems so outdated.
As a girl who has never been rail skinny, I was told directly and indirectly that my body was wrong somehow. Through media images, through somewhat backhanded compliments, by boyfriends in high school and college, and eventually, from myself because it had been so internalized.
Then . . . I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl who had thick black hair, and I felt, from the moment we met, she was a best friend I had always known.
When I met my daughter, I started thinking about all the body messages I had heard my whole life. Relatives would even comment innocently on her little body. At those moments, I was 100% sure it was time to reframe this old way of thinking and speaking and get rid of these ridiculous messages.
What I tolerated for myself, I simply wouldn’t tolerate for my daughter.
My daughter is fierce, bold, confident, and wonderful. She is a spitfire in the best possible way. All I could think about was what if someone said any of the above comments to her. I saw myself through her.
I felt mad. Like really mad. Why is it okay to comment on someone’s body at all—good or bad? It’s a strange normal that I do not want my daughter to have anything to do with. I felt bad for my younger self having to endure these remarks and buying into them.
Here’s the thing, innocent or not, let’s just take the body talk off the table. Talk like this is mostly just a habit, with zero malicious intent. Still, at our house, I make it a priority to absolutely never say something negative about my own body, and of course, never about anyone else’s in front of any of my kids.
I do not want that talk to be a habit or for them to even attach opinions to the shape of a person.
I try to be proactive about complimenting an outfit my daughter chose or a clip in her hair if I need to comment at all on her appearance. Instead of commenting on anything appearance-related, I want to try to focus the attention on her accomplishments like riding her pony or her dreams of being a lifeguard.
Let’s be kinder to ourselves, ladies, and to each other, and especially to our little boys and girls. The words we say become their inner voices. The remarks made to them stick. These body comments have no place in our conversations or our opinions about ourselves.
Time to do better and take the body talk off the table, for ourselves and for them. We all deserve better . . . don’t you think?