When did my daughter start thinking she was fat?
It began with the need to cover up her leotard at gymnastics.
My three girls ran into the gym and started peeling off their sweatpants and shirts. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her, still fully dressed, fiddling with her shoelaces. “Can I leave on my pants?” she asked.
I chalked it up to the gym feeling a bit chilly. Soon, she started wearing her pants and a shirt over the leotard until she eventually refused to even put on a leotard for class.
When the warm weather arrived, the layers remained. She loves gymnastics, but no amount of coaxing would get her back into her form fitting sparkly leotard.
All of a sudden, I am eighteen again. Almost out of my teenage years, I am at my lowest weight, My soft belly rests beneath my clothes. I am wearing my favorite shorts with a tiny bit of lace protruding from the cutoff bottoms. My curvy figure rounds out the look perfectly.
As I walk down a crowded city street with my boyfriend, he starts talking about the ideal woman's figure. Somehow, I find myself stopped in my tracks. He bends down in front of me and runs his hand between my legs showing me my lack of a thigh gap. Matter of factually, he points out where my legs finally separate and tells me it needs to be higher.
Somehow, I am less of a woman in his eyes because even at my lowest weight, my thighs lightly brushed together when I walked.
Embarrassed and thoroughly disgusted with myself, we continue walking.
I am defective. I am fat. My shorts would sit in my drawer, replaced by a longer pair.
This scene played out twenty years ago, yet I can still feel his hands violating me as dozens of people walked past.
Looking at my beautiful daughter, I want to protect her. Did a classmate say something to make her feel inferior?
We work to slowly rebuild the self esteem that has somehow been lost.
Summer brings with it tank tops and shorts, pool parties and bathing suits. What will she do when invited out to swim?
Unwrapped from her towel, she is once again confident and carefree. Her bathing suit clings to her curves as she cartwheels across the grass.