Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Soapbox and Your Valentine resolutions

At Elliot’s 4 month check up, our family doctor took one look at her, naked and cooing as she grabbed her feet on the exam table, and laughed, saying “that is a thriving baby.” Elliot weighed in at 15.5 lbs (in the 90th percentile for weight) and 25 inches (in the 75th percentile for height. Then Dr. Robinson gave me an awkward lecture on body types: no one is totally proportionate – don’t try to put this baby on a diet.

This was my family doctor. She knows me, and she knows that would NEVER cross my mind. So apparently she has to say this because other nuts out there DO put their babies on diets and therefore doctors have been forced to put “no baby diets” on the list of routine commands right after “car seats are mandatory” and “don’t leave her alone with your 2-year-old.”

Does this really shock anyone? In a culture where more than half of the population is overweight and the other half obsesses about remaining underweight, is it surprising that we have taken body image obsession all the way down to infancy? Absolutely not.

So here are the Valentine’s Resolutions that I have made for you. All of you. For the our daughters' mental, emotional, and physical health, please resolve to do the following:

1) Stand naked in front of the mirror and love what you see. I’m not kidding. On first glance you may think… whoa, I’m so not ready for my Oscar dress. But that’s probably not an issue, is it? Keep in mind that once upon a time, someone held your chubby baby body in her hands and kissed your little neck rolls, your rubber band wrists, and your meaty thighs with pure delight. Now it’s your turn to revel in yourself. Your stretch marks were part of building a human being. Your wrinkles reflect each moment of joy and anguish that have made you who you are. Your extra pounds simply reflect your willingness to indulge in the good things. Whatever your issue is, figure out a way to love it. Do not walk away from that mirror until you LOVE yourself, for your mother's sake if nothing else. If you really can’t, than make a plan to change what you can’t live with.

2) Now, love others. I’ve heard more stories in the past month about mothers judging their daughters weight, sisters gloating over not being the “fat” one, strangers telling women who just gave birth a month ago that they should really try to lose the weight before it sticks. None of these stories are mine, but I do have my own. We all do. And we carry these stories around all the time, just waiting for a bad day to pull them out and torture ourselves. Who needs water boarding? I have my own grandma patting my four-months-pregnant tummy and asking how much of it was the baby. Yep, even if it wasn’t meant the way it sounded, it has stuck with me. So STOP IT. All of you. No one needs a $5 Hallmark Valentine’s Day card, but we all need a little acceptance. If you wouldn’t say it to a new friend, you don’t have license to say horrible things to your family. If you must judge, do it silently. No one needs more ammunition against themselves.

3) Try for just one day to have a positive relationship with food. We all know people (or are people) who comment during every meal, "I really shouldn't be eating this." Then don't. Or do, and go for a jog later. Or eat really well the next day. Just don't tell me or my girls that what we are eating is a bad idea, because we're enjoying it. Tomorrow, try to recognize that a really great meal nourishes the body and the spirit. Savor the flavors, aesthetics, aromas, and company with each meal on Valentine's Day. Indulge when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. I'll try it too, and just maybe we can learn to do that everyday.

Okay, I’ll jump off my soapbox. I’m off to the grocery store to tell the first new mom I see how beautiful both she and the baby are.


Andrea said...

Right on, sistah!

Just thought I'd note that none of the comments mentioned above were made by me.

Second note, I feel more at home and at peace with my body than EVER before, and I think it's because I'm not dieting. At all! EVER! I'm just eating healthy, as much as I want, listening to my body (and probably shedding some pounds b/c of the frightful amount of stress reading books places on me.)

You're so right about the way family can use "constructive criticism" to instill negative body images. Remember a certain (lovable, extremely lovable) grandpa and his comments on how our asses could fit into tin cans? Ha!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sarah Aadland said...

Fabulous. No dieting! A healthy lifestyle is way more important. I'm not sure how to reduce your stress level... Maybe you could try hosting the after party for a folk concert?

do said...

Do you know that one of the things I love best about you is that you know what's real - and you make a conscientious effort to peel back the layers of fake, and focus on loving the truest kernels. Thanks for writing this - for calling people out - and for loving your family and friends for who they are, even when we sometimes persist in not loving ourselves.

Jess said...

First of all, I love the blog! It's great hearing about your fun-filled days with your girls! I helps me feel connected even when I haven't seen you all in so long.

The Valentine's resolutions were great, I agree 100%!

Have a great weekend! Talk to you soon.


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