She takes the jeans off, lovingly folds them and places them on the highest shelf of her closet, vowing one day to lose enough weight to wear them comfortably and feel good about it.
In high school, I weighed no more than 110 pounds, at my heaviest. I am 5'6". I was so tiny that the small-waisted jeans with the zippers on the legs (come on, we all had them!) were way too short because, in theory, they were proportioned for a girl at least 4 inches shorter than me. Although at the time, you could have called me a "waif" and I would not have believed you. I would have pulled my International News sweatshirt lower to cover my "fat ass" and turned in the other direction, glancing at my Swatch watch, walking as fast as my unlaced Keds could take me.
Oh yes, I was that girl.
Not much has changed since then, besides my weight. I've gone up and I've gone down. I've rested comfortably in between. But never, ever have I ever looked in the mirror - even fitting into size 8's after squeezing a nearly 10 pound baby from my nether regions (what I would give to be there again!), and been happy with what I saw.
I've never had an identifiable eating disorder, although I've wished for one on many occasion. I even considered just how much weight I could lose if I did, wondering if you can catch an eating disorder from watching too much Project Runway or the new 90210 as I took another bite of Chunky Monkey. If I'm lucky enough to catch a stomach virus that my kids have brought home from school, my first thought is not "I hope I get over this soon," it is "I wonder how much weight I can lose from getting sick?"
Houston, we have a problem.
My story is typical. I am not unlike most of the female population in that I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable in my skin. The only moments when I praise my size are in retrospect, when I look at my image in photographs that are many years old and I wonder why it was that I thought I was so horribly overweight? I know this about myself and that is why I so desperately want to avoid passing this on to my children, especially my daughter.
Seattle-area girls are not immune to the national epidemic of not loving their bodies either. According to "Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem:"
Two thirds of girls (67%) in Seattle believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members
62% of teen girls in Seattle reported engaging in negative activities, such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying,smoking, or drinking, when feeling badly about themselves
The self-esteem tipping point happens during the transition to teenage years, resulting in loss of trust and communication with adults
Parents' words and actions play a pivotal role in fostering positive self-esteem in girls: The top wish among girls in Seattle is for their parents to communicate better with them, which includes more frequent and more open conversations, as well as discussions about what is happening in their own lives.
They've released yet another eye-opening video about the state of our girls - remember the one about beauty? Take a peek:
We can't control the media, even though we can influence it if we try hard enough. We can control how we communicate with our daughters. We can be better role models and show them how to love themselves, their bodies, no matter what their size. We can encourage them to be healthy, strong and beautiful all at the same time. Educating ourselves, attending workshops, and communicating, with the help of companies like Dove, I really believe our daughters will be in a much better place than we ever were.
*Cross-posted at Seattle Mom Blogs
I'm giving away a brand new copy of the book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection Is Harming Young Women, by Courtney E. Martin.
If you'd like to have your very own copy of this book for yourself, or to give away as a gift (it makes a wonderful gift for anyone with daughters!) - just leave me a comment on this post by Friday, December 12th (that's 10 days from now).
I'll then pick the winner over the weekend and announce the results on Monday, December 15th.
Enter as many times as you like.
Buying me a latte will not increase your odds of winning, but buying me an Electrolux washer and dryer will guarantee a win.
The winner will have to trust me with their mailing address. I promise not to sell it to telemarketers or political campaigns. Pinky swear. Good luck!