My daughter has started using the F word. She hasn't even hidden it from me. In fact, she said it to me twice. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It's inevitable with all the teen culture surrounding her and what she picks up from her friends at school.
The F-word of which I most fear my daughter will fall under the spell -- Fat.
She is entering puberty and adolescence, and as I've mentioned, she's the size of a "normal adult-sized person." Coming to grips with that changeover from a tall, skinny, gangly child to a filled-out adultish person is difficult, especially when many of your friends still look like skinny, gangly kids. She's become conscious of the number on the scale, and apparently she and her friends have compared numbers, and she doesn't like that hers is higher. But she's taller than they are, and yes, she's beginning to fill out some, whereas many of them still have childish frames.
We talked about it. I told her how dangerous a poor body image is (I also knows that she checks in here at Snapshot to see what Mom has to say as well, so she'll hear it again). She said, "It's only bad when you stop eating because you think you are fat, but I don't do that. I can't not eat."
I answered that yes, indeed, an eating disorder is a dangerous and scary thing, something we have to keep watch over and avoid. But even if she doesn't develop unhealthy eating habits or fall into an endless cycle of diets, I told her that an unhealthy body image is sad because your body is always with you, and constant dissatisfaction about the way you look wears away at your self-esteem, and I want her to avoid that.
I don't know how to protect her -- how to give her a healthy body image, to teach her how to take care of her body with good food and moderate exercise without letting her self-esteem be tied to the number on the scale or on the tag in her jeans. Although I've never been thin and perfect, I've always had peace with my own body, even when I knew that I should lose a few pounds, and that's a peace that I wouldn't trade for anything -- even a supermodel's physique.
She's absolutely not fat, and yet I know that I can't convince of her of that. I have to just hope and trust and pray that we will be able to talk it through-- that she'll get over this hurdle, and will be able to love the body that God gave her, curves, thighs and other lumps to come.
It's just another in a long line stretching ahead of me of scary, dangerous things that she and I are going to have to navigate through together as we walk the path to adulthood and full maturity.