I’m sitting here, trying to finish writing a chapter that involves my early but long standing battle with bulimia. I’m trying to make it funny. I think anyone can admit that bulimia isn’t really a hilarious topic – even the word bulimia is the anithesis of funny. This book I’m writing is about me and some of my earlier struggles but told with my usual swear words and bad attitude to make sure I get just as many mean reviews as my other books have received.
Even though my parent’s attitude toward food had little to do with my subsequent addiction, in fact, it almost surprises me that chose food as my primary way to numb out. My mother read Our Bodies, Ourselves, was proud of her curves, refused to shave her pits (or anywhere else) and never ever made a single disparaging remark about my eating habits. Yet, I still fell into the trap of trying to control my life by controlling my body.
It does make me think a lot about how my influence will effect my daughters’ body image. I have three girls! That’s a lot of body angst I see in the future. I, like my mother, refuse to give any credence to society’s view of what a woman’s body “should” look like. If my daughter wants a cookie, the one and only reason I will say no is if it will prevent her from ruining her appetite for dinner. Obviously, it’s up to me to attempt to instill healthy eating habits. But, that being said, body type is genetic. Elby has a juicy little butt and tummy – despite the fact that she eats like a bird. Guess who else looked like that at her age? Yeah, me. I see pictures of myself and my little chubby legs at two and I still have them now. It never mattered how much I abused my body in my teens and twenties to be skinny, those chubby knees were still there. I wish I knew then what I know now – that short of surgically altering our appearance, we’re destined to be who we are whether or not we eat one cookie, two or eight.
I’m not saying that obesity is not a problem in our country with our children. This seems to me a result of the types of foods being offered (packaged, deep fried, microwavable – and, yes, I’m guilty) and the lack of physical exercise that kids get these days. When I was young, after school there was no TV, there was running around the neighborhood for three hours like a maniac, there was gymnastics (until I developed breasts and the Nadia Comaneci dream died) and there was lots and lots of candy. But I was never fat. Yet by the age of thirteen I was always on some sort of diet. My old friends remember it better than I do. They say I was obsessed. One week it would be the “Saltines diet” I would eat Saltines and carrots only. The next week I tried not to eat at all. Obviously nothing ever worked. My body was my body.
I try to encourage Elby to run and play and dance and be naked and proud! I tell her constantly that she has the “best butt in the business.” But, when she gets older and realizes that cellulite sucks, and roundness is wrong, I can only hope that she has the self-love to not give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks. I can only give her the approval for so long and then she’ll seek it from other sources. Like I did. Maybe times will be different. God I hope so.
Until then, I will continue to never ever refer to myself as fat, vow to appreciate my curves and exercise to be healthy not stick thin. I will not give skinny any currency in my house.
Elby, Matilda and Sadie, here’s wishing you all the body confidence I can provide and much more that I can’t. I love all three of you exactly how you are!