The other day we were jeans shopping for the girls. Emerson, much like me when I was her age, is incredibly hard to shop for. She is very tall for her age and very skinny. I try not to use that word often, but it came out after stopping by the fourth store to try and find pants that fit her in the waist and weren’t up to her knees in length.
After I said it, Ashton interjected and said, “Yea, Emerson you have a lot of skin.” She obviously has no idea what being “skinny” means and I took that as a win. I just agreed and was like, “Yea, she does have a lot of skin.”
I feel like it is important for my girls not to even be thinking about weight at all. I try my best, although I do slip up on occasion, not to mention it in their presence. Most people believe commenting on someone’s weight loss may be positive and, in most cases, I am sure it is well intended. But when your 10-year-old hears you say something along the lines of, “You look so great. Have you lost weight,” that may actually be harmful.
It is scary to think that a 10-year-old would be insecure about something like that, but you would be surprised at how young these girls are when they begin feeling insecure and in turn, they begin developing eating disorders and unhealthy eating habits. They hear you saying that this person looks great because they have lost weight, and a young impressionable mind may start to believe that they also must look like that to look “great.” Not to mention, commenting on a person’s weight whether it be positive or negative is just not a good move, in my opinion. You never know what another person may be dealing with that is attributed to them being their current size. It could be an illness, genetics, food insecurity and a list of other things.
Obviously, you do not want your kids to hear you speaking negatively about anyone and that includes yourself. I know it is easy to pick ourselves apart. I do it often, but I try not to.
Most of you know, but if you do not, I have struggled with acne almost all of my adult life. I tried anything and everything to fix it. I saw almost a dozen different dermatologists and estheticians, took twice as many different prescription medications and had close to 100 different treatments.
My biggest flare up was right after I had Ashton. I was in such a bad place. I would not leave my house. I was angry, depressed and in constant pain. I would try to negotiate with myself (and God) that if my skin was better, then I wouldn’t be in such a bad mood or if my skin cleared up, I would be a better person and most often, if my skin was perfect, I would never take it for granted again. I honestly felt like I was being punished.
I know during that time my kids would hear some of my negative comments that I would make about myself and see me crying in bed. It hurts my heart to think about what kind of impression they were under at that time, seeing me so upset over something I found physically unsatisfactory about myself.
Of course, my friends and family were constantly giving me words of encouragement and challenging my inner monologue, which I appreciated but it should not have been necessary. It took me months to get out of that slump, but once I did, I promised myself that I would never allow myself to get back in it. I would never put so much emphasis on something so miniscule as physical appearance.
Of course, I want my kids to be presentable in public, but beyond their hair, teeth and clothes being clean, that is where the buck stops. If they are happy, healthy and confident then I will be too. I have always encouraged my kids to be themselves and express that in whatever way they choose – right now it is pink hair for Ashton and JNCO jeans for Emerson (Yes, the huge baggy 90’s jeans).
Being normal is boring anyways.
(Paige Nash is a wife, mother, publisher of Bienville Parish Journal and Claiborne Parish Journal and a digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal.)