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September 7, 2011

Really? She's 5!

I am sad today.  Well, tonight actually.  I had a fairly happy day as I found out some good news this afternoon.  But tonight, after dinner, I became sad.

Helen told me that her thighs are fat and that she hates them.  She started crying and telling me that she was fat especially in her upper leg area.  Oh.  No.  Baby girl, please don't do this.

I asked her if someone had told her that.  She said no.  Then she followed it up with another round of "I hate my legs they are so fat."

I have often thought I would be ready to tell Helen all about the fact that God gave her those thighs.  But, I also thought I wouldn't have to give Helen reassurance about her body at the early age of 5!  I did tell Helen that God made her beautiful and that included her legs.  We talked about eating right and exercising to stay healthy.  But you see, for Helen, healthy will most likely include thighs that are bigger than our society says is acceptable.  The girl got her momma's genes in abundance and her momma's got a booty and the thighs to match.

Of course, this caused some self-reflection on my part.  For the last few years, I purposefully refrain from stating negative things about my body.  That's difficult for me.  I grew up hating my body.  For a multitude of reasons, I thought I was fat and ugly.  

I am very sensitive on the topic as it relates to my children because I never want them to look at themselves in the mirror and see fat and ugly.  A few things I have been adamant about is that no one is to comment regarding the food on another person's plate.  Sarah had gotten into the habit of policing the food on her sisters' plates and I have done my best to put an end to that.  I've also referred to the differences in my children as their body types, but I don't really know how that sounds to them.  Helen is smart and she has figured out that she couldn't wear the clothes Dani and Sarah wore.  She knows her shorts for school have the "X" after the 6 and that her jumpers are the "1/2 sizes" and her sisters' aren't.  Perhaps when she hears "You have a different body type" she is really hearing, "You are fatter than your sisters, so you have to wear this..."  I don't know.  

What I DO know is it broke my heart tonight to hear her say what she said and see the tears fall down her beautiful cheeks.

But mostly, my self-reflection has been centered on what I have been saying about my own body in front of my children, especially lately.  Post-partum is the hardest time for me to stay positive about my body.  I am always trying to drop extra weight in the months following having a baby, which means I don't eat the same things the kids do for most meals and I definitely watch the amounts.  Did I call myself fat in front of Helen?  Did I jokingly refer to my "big ol' butt" where she could hear?  I don't think I did, but I have my weak moments where I might say something to Craig and the kids can be very observant.

After our conversation about eating healthy and exercising, I saw Helen in the back yard running from one side to the other.  I probably saw her run three or four laps of the yard.  I'm happy she was doing something activeI'm sad for the reason behind it, because I'm fairly certain she wouldn't be running just for the heck of it.

I received a great suggestion that I should mention all of this to Helen's teacher.  I thought it a great idea because I bet her teacher will have some ideas how to approach this at home.  It will also put this on her radar and she may be able to find ways to affirm Helen t school to combat this self-criticism. 

Dear Blessed Virgin Mary, my spiritual mother and mother of Divine Grace, please ask your Son to assist me in my quest to be a better mother to all of my children, and especially to work through this trial with Helen, that we may both come through it with strength.  May we reflect our heavenly Father's Love to each other, to our family and to the world.  Amen.


  1. Oh, that is so sad. Helen is so young and innocent to be feeling this way. I was talking with a friend in Weight Watchers tonight how we always thought we were "fat" in high school when we really were not. That's how our culture is, but it is scary to see how young it is going...

  2. Oh, that is sad. I will pray that it is a passing thought for her and doesn't stay on her mind. It's hard being a woman or girl in this culture!

  3. Oh, this breaks my heart. You and your sweet Helen will definitely be in my prayers. You are an amazing mom and I know you will respond to this in a way that will only life Helen up.

  4. Oh, how heartbreaking! I will be praying for both of you as you work your way through this.

  5. Rebecca said exactly what I was thinking. I am sorry that you (and poor Helen!) are dealing with this already, but so glad that you are a great mother who is proactively working to make things as much better as they can be in our culture.

  6. All I can say to this is UGH! So sad! :( Prayers for you all as you work through this.

  7. Raising girls is such a different trial than raising boys. I'm sorry that Helen is somehow made aware of her physical differences in this way....but unfortunately that's what being put in a room full of same aged peers will do. They line up by height, they sit and stand next to one another, they see shiny brushed hair versus uncombed tangles, they feel inferior when they can't answer questions as quickly, and the list goes on. Noticing that her legs are different than her classmates may have been her "education", something no more significant than observation. Tell her we're all made to look different and sound different so the teacher knows which kiddo was being the orneriest! :)

  8. awww. that is really sad. i remember when my 2nd oldest daughter said that to me for the first time... she was 5 too. i was horrified to realize we live in a society where kids even think about those things so young. of course, it doesn't help that her older sister is a beanpole and like your girls, the clothes fit differently. sending up some prayers for your beautiful little girl. <3


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