I was brushing Birdie’s hair this morning. She stood in between my legs while I sat on the couch. I could see her poking her thigh with her finger while I brushed.
“Am I skinny?” She asked.
“You’re perfect.” I replied.
“But I can see some fat here,” she said, poking her upper thigh.
“That is not fat, it’s just part of your body. Your body is perfect and has everything it needs. If you didn’t have that bit of body, you’d only have a bone and when you tried to walk with only a bone you’d fall over, ” I replied: stupidly, awkwardly, long-windedly. She seemed to accept this answer and think it was quite the joke. She went on laughing about walking around with only a bone for a leg and falling over.
I remembered someone telling me that their daughter started worrying about her weight when she started kinder. I was gobsmacked. Kinder? Are you kidding me? I don’t remember noticing anything in particular about my body until high school.
I am probably reading a lot more into Birdie’s comment than I should. Perhaps it was just a flippant comment that meant nothing to her, yet to me held a tsunami of undercurrents about our culture and society, materialism, body image, questions about whether or not I’ve been making comments while getting myself dressed that she has picked up on, ra ra la la ha bla.
It has reminded me that I am a role model – the main womanly role model they have. They see how I look at myself in the mirror, they hear the things I might say about my body, or about how a piece of clothing looks.
It’s been a good opportunity to think about what I do and don’t want to pass on to my daughters when it comes to body image. A lot of food for thought…