This post has nothing to do with legal marketing. It has to do with me being a mom, which is part of the holistic person, according to my Twitter profile, that I am: “Legal Marketer. Mom. Girl Scout Leader. Wife to the Sports Dude. 80s Music Chick … Tired.”
This post is about my concerns with body image distortion, and what are we, as parents, going to do and say about it?
In case you hadn’t heard, Will and Kate are in my town this weekend. They drove by our house on Friday. The helicopters flew overhead. They are all over the news.
I posted on my Facebook page a photo of Will and Kate getting off the plane, with this comment:
Seriously. Someone throw a canapé in her mouth. What is that? A 20″ waist??? (beautiful dress, BTW, I might have to check that designer out more – Roksanda Ilincic)
The comment, while flippant, spurned quite a serious discussion. My comments weren’t coming from a place of cattiness, but of concern.
I remember staying up through the night to watch Lady Di and Charles get married. I was all of 14 and eating up the fairytale princess story we were being fed by the media.
I followed her like most 14-year old girls follow a princess. I watched her ups and downs, her battles with anorexia and bulimia, her recovery, and her death.
I can’t help but think we’re watching it all happen again with Will and Kate. Fairytale comes to life. Commoner marries prince. Perfect princess. Fashion icon. And the impressionable 14-year old girls here are eating it up.
I’ve kept the TV off for most of this. I don’t want my girls looking to Kate as an example of where they need to be to be beautiful and “normal.”
I will say that the first thing I am doing where body image distortion is concerned is calling it as I see it, and I will challenge any one who says that Kate’s current weight and size are “normal” and “healthy,” especially when compared with photos of her taken just a few short years ago in college where she looks healthy, athletic, perfectly fit and appropriately thin by anyone’s standards.
When someone on my wall, commenting on the current photo, said that “Kate looks just right” and “We are so used to seeing obese women that one her size seems thin,” I had to jump in, “OMG. Kate is not a ‘normal’ size.”
It’s not normal and healthy at 5’10” to be a size zero (which Kate was reported to be on her wedding day). She might be naturally thin, but this is diving well below that marker on the size charts.
It really hit me when I took my then 10-year old daughter to the Gap for the first time to buy some jeans. She’s was a size 0 (and, at 11 is almost a size 2). Perfectly normal for a CHILD who is still growing.
And while a size 0 or 2 might be a healthy size for a short and petite woman, that’s one thing my kids will not be. They are tracking to be as tall, if not taller, than me at 5’8″. Once again, Kate is 5’10”.
But body image distortion just isn’t about the girls.
Men and teen boys are being bombarded by these images in magazines and movies. They too are being fed that these underweight and Photoshopped images are the “ideal” for a woman, that THIS is what is desirable, achievable and normal. In turn, they project this on to the girls around them.
I don’t want my perfectly normal and healthy daughter to be told that she’s too fat, when she’s not. To feel pressure to starve herself to fit a designer’s Photoshopped projection of what is “normal.”
I vow that my daughter’s waist shall and will be bigger than her head, thank you very much.
I spend my days trying to teach my kids about healthy eating, healthy choices, why having some body fat is a good thing. It’s a battle as they are already talking about being too fat and diets, at 8 and 11. So we talk about proportions and balance in what we eat.
I have to keep my mouth zipped when watching what I eat. Like most women, I’d like to lose a few pounds, but I talk about it in regards to healthy food choices, keeping my body in balance, building muscle.
I hope I’m doing a good job. My oldest is off to middle school this Fall, and we’ll find out then, I suppose.
What it comes down to is that I’m just not one of those “stick-your-head-in-the-sand” kind of moms. If I see my girls withering away under stress, I WILL intervene. I will not stand by and say “wow, she’s so beautiful,” while ignoring the bones protruding from her concave chest and pelvis.
So, no, it’s not out of jealousy or bitterness that I say, please, someone, toss a canapé into Kate’s mouth. It’s out of concern that she is walking down a very dangerous path, one I do not wish my daughters, nor yours, to follow.
(edited to move the second paragraph up)