Learning to say it out loud
Do you talk to your daughter about her weight?
(Diane Cassells)
Every evening, just as we prepare a bath and set aside pyjamas for the evening, my daughter steps onto the scale and happily lets me know how much she weighs. I know that weighing yourself daily is a pointless exercise but, in terms of her garnering numeracy skills, this has become a fun activity.

I’ve never been concerned about her weight or physical development. She’s tall for her age, with a build that lends itself to athleticism (if she can counter my typically clumsy genes!) I, on the other hand, am short and hourglass-figured. My weight hasn’t really concerned me since I got over the plump teenage years. As a woman heading towards my middle thirties though, I’m becoming more and more aware of it.

So when she asked me to weigh myself and then tell her how much I weighed, I gulped and did the wrong thing.

I said “I can, but I’d rather not say the number out loud”. She looked at me quizzically and said “But mom! It’s just going to tell you that you’re healthy!”
She’s right, you know. Here I am, wondering about my weight and unknowingly passing on an undercurrent of shame about my body. As a woman, I’m all too aware of the pressure to “be thin” and the skewed concepts of health that some glossy magazines throw in our faces.

Yet, there I am, holding in my hands the turning point for my daughter. I need to be a positive role model here, and show her that my weight is something I’m happy with, even though I might be a little thicker around the waist than Kate Moss. I need to show her that even though I might worry about a little extra padding on my bottom, I’m proud of my body. This body of mine gave her life, and it’s carried us this far.

I had a friend in school that battled an eating disorder. I witnessed as she binged or starved her way through those trying times, and I saw her pain. Suddenly, I understood her. I realised why she’d been through that. I’ll admit too, that the pressure to be thin in high school didn’t go unnoticed by me, especially when my teenage years simultaneously served me lettuce and cellulite.

As I looked into my daughter’s face, I saw her teenage years ahead of us. I saw her crying over being “taller than the other boys”, worrying about pimples and whether or not her sneakers were cool enough for the in crowd. I saw her crying over a friend who betrays her and putting herself on funny diets to lose weight before a disco. I saw all those things I went through, reflected back at me.

Today, I chose to stop those insecurities. I chose today to cut them out of her future life as best I can. Today, I stood on the scale, and told her my weight out loud.

And she said, “mom, that number’s beautiful”.

Do you talk to your daughter about her weight?

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