My daughter couldn’t have been more than eight the first time she came to me sobbing about being fat. The body image struggle had begun.
Fat? You’re a kid. You hardly know your addition facts. I was shocked at the language coming from her mouth. A mouth with gaping tooth holes, no less.
Some kid at school had thrown out the F word and now some conversations would need to take place.
My first reaction was to brush it off.
You aren’t fat, Sweetie. You are a beautiful little girl. Go play with your dolls.
But a few days later it came up again and I knew I needed to give this more thought. How was I going to respond?
What did I want to teach my daughter about her body?
What about her sisters?
Those questions introduced two more:
What does it mean to be beautiful?
How do I feel about my own body image?
A closed bathroom door is a magnet for small fists and conversations that just. can. not. wait. And in perfect timing, three girls piled in and discovered my belly. You know the one. The one fluffy and wobbly from growing babies. And this one has seen quite a few.
Oh mommy! I love your belly. Can I touch it? It is so soft.
And touch it they did, wowed by it’s texture.
I wanted to pull away and correct their misunderstandings.
But something made me stop and evaluate my next words very carefully.
To my surprise, they sounded something like this:
I know. Isn’t it great how soft it is? Do you know why? Because you kids got to live in there and my belly stretched out amazingly far. Isn’t God smart to design my belly like that?
That day, something shifted in me.
That was the day I decided to model more than just a squishy middle. I was going to model good body image and an appreciation for my body for the sake of my girls.