The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


No, Not THAT F Word

I almost said the “F” word in front of my daughter this afternoon. Not the four-letter one that ends in a “k” -- though that one does slip out occasionally. I’m talking about “F-A-T.” It’s how I felt when I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in the Banana Republic window.

I’m not, really. I can honestly say that my body image in my 40s is better than it’s ever been -- usually. I’ve accepted that I will not be a waif or tall and willowy in this lifetime. And on most days, I appreciate my athletic build and strength. But after a week out of town spent eating too much and not exercising enough, I’d gained a couple of pounds. And the old “I’m fat” tape started playing in my head.

I barely stopped myself from saying the words out loud. But one of my missions as a mother is to avoid contaminating my daughter with the negative body image I -- and most women I know -- have struggled with. So even when I’m feeling a tad pudgy, I try not to criticize my body in front of her.

She’s not yet five. But she’s already taking note of diet commercials and messages from the media that thin is good.

“Mama, did you know that there’s medicine that can help you lose weight?” she told me the other day, almost as amazed as when she discovered “Curious George” on KQED.

And when I picked her up from preschool last week she announced that “me and Isabel are going on a diet so we can get small enough to live in a flower.”

Talking about living in a flower is cute. Talking about losing weight at her age is scary.

She thinks dieting is a game. But I know what it’s like to obsess about weight and to measure one’s self-worth according to what a scale says at a young age. And I know that now girls start down that path even earlier.

Helping my daughter cultivate a healthy body image in our society will be an uphill battle. But at least if she grows up hearing me say “I’m strong” instead of “I’m fat,” she may have a chance.

By Dorothy O’Donnell

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I like how you handled this. Good f-in' job, Dorothy ;)
It's not easy in this culture to totally avoid the body image issue. But I think you're right: each time you obsess on weight in front of you're daughter you really do reinforce the image. Those little things do add up - just like they say in that new book "The Power of Small!"

I was lucky. I have no exterior body image. I was
raised by a Mom who always said, "It's what's
inside that counts. This forced me to think about my actions and words being more important than my exterior image. It was often difficult, but I think it paid off. Thanks Mom,
Ruth Scott
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