Thursday, December 20

Setting an Example

I went to the gym last night, and while I sweated and ran and sweated some more, the Miss Universe pageant came on one of the gym televisions. And as I watched the opening bit, I saw young woman after young woman cross the stage. And it all felt a little bit disgusting.

There I was, working my ass off to maintain my size 8, a size that I haven't seen on my jeans tags since high school, a size that I'm very proud of and hope to maintain. Meanwhile, on TV, there are the supposed most beautiful women in the world parading across a stage, and not a one of them was likely bigger than a size 4. If that.

They all looked nearly identical. Tall, very thin, long bouncy hair, bleached straight white teeth, skin completely free of acne or freckles, high cheekbones. If it weren't for their sashes (and to be fair, quite a number of skin tones) I would have a difficult time telling these women apart. Hardly any women can  attain this standard of beauty. Is this really what we all should be trying to look like?

As the mother of a daughter, I am seeing things like the Miss Universe pageant in a way that I never have before. These women, the way they look—this is the look that my daughter will see in TV, movies, magazines, and the look that will probably make her question whether she's pretty enough. How do I tell her she's beautiful the way she is? And what kind of example should I be setting? I was missing family dinner last night so I could exercise (for the record, normally I work out at other times, but I was wanting to go to a class—that ended up being canceled). I exercise for my health, yes, but like I said before, I want to maintain my current size. With pregnancy, I gained a lot of weight, and it's something I do not want to fight my entire life. I don't want to gain then lose, gain then lose, gain then lose. Now that I've lost weight, I really want to keep it off. But how do I continue to strive for this in my own life while also assuring Olive that she's perfect no matter what she looks like?

I'm not the first mother to raise a daughter. With TV shows like Honey-Boo-Boo (a show I've never seen, by the way) and all those pageant shows with little girls, it seems like it's getting harder to let little girls just be little girls for very long. I see seven-year-olds wearing heels, ten-year-olds wearing slinky tank tops and booty shorts. I don't know how to navigate these kind of parenting waters. But Olive is young, and we'll just have to figure it out together.

I do know that no matter what she looks like, or how she chooses to live her life, I'll love her forever, with my whole entire heart. Even if she wants to be Miss Universe.

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