Monsters in Pretty Packages

Friday Ramble time here on Monsters and Mayhem…but today I’m going to talk about a monster. One more insidious and persistent than any I could ever create.  One created out of real life and painted as the very image of perfection.

You see her everyday.  In fact, my daughter met her this week.

My lovely nine-year-old came home from school very upset a few days ago. It took me a bit to drag the story out of her, but apparently  a boy in her class called her fat. She’s not–she’s an active little girl with an adorable round tummy. But what broke my heart most was that she went to the mirror and stared at herself, sucking in that adorable little tummy…then asked if she needed to go on a diet.

She’s nine. Nine! What are we teaching our girls?

On the flip side, I recently decided to work really hard on my fitness level and make changes to my diet. With cancer and type II diabetes in my immediate family tree, getting healthy seemed like a good idea. I’ve been really happy with how strong I feel and the fact that I now have biceps. Muscles are cool! That hard work, paired with an illness this summer, caused me to lose a bit a weight.  I”m not what you’d consider frightfully thin, but when I went in for a check-up–right after I’d been sick–my doctor grilled me about my diet and how much I was working out, wearing a worried crease on her forehead.

It wasn’t until I left that I realized she was concerned I was anorexic.  And that was humiliating. Still, given our current climate of what’s “beautiful,” I know she was asking the questions she felt had to ask.

Every day, thousands of images barrage women and girls about what it takes to be perfect. That monster–the one with the windblown hair, crimson nails and airbrushed skin–has been very busy.  She’s everywhere. She’s on the pages of magazines in images that have been altered to make her look unnaturally thin.  She’s on TV and on billboards. She’s even in stores, smiling on packages of make-up. No matter where we go, I can’t shield my daughter from this onslaught.  All I can do is remind her, as much as possible, that it’s what’s inside her mind and heart that matters. She’s beautiful because she’s caring and creative and compassionate. She’s lovely because she plays with the three-year-old girl next door–the one with four brothers and no big sisters.  She’s gorgeous because she asks deep questions about the world and how to fix broken things.  That’s what I need her to remember, especially as she becomes a teen.

So I’m on a new monster hunt. To protect my daughter. To champion women of all shapes and sizes and colors. To remind myself that my worth isn’t measured by my jeans’ size. It’s measured by what I do each day to show integrity, compassion and strength.

We’re all beautiful, no matter what the monster tries to tell us. And I’m in this fight for as long as it takes.

Who’s with me?




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