A number of years ago, a friend of mine gave me some gorgeous designer clothes her daughter had outgrown. The clothes were sizes 8, 10, 14 and 16. I couldn't imagine a time when Daughter could fit into them. I think she was all of 4 when we received the clothes. Once a year or so, we pull down the box with these fabulous clothes in them and see if Daughter is any closer to fitting into them.
We struck pay dirt this time. There are two gorgeous turtleneck sweaters and a divine suede skirt that Daughter tried on. The sweaters she loved unconditionally. The skirt? She stuck her butt out and said, "Does this make my butt look big?"
[For the record, sticking her back end way out made it look enormous, of course. I mimicked what she did and we managed to put a box of Cuties on my "butt shelf."]
I was flabbergasted at her question. Good Lord, she's only 9. Her growth as of late has been up and up, not out and out. I told her flat out it didn't make it look big at all. And I asked why she'd think that. She said Eldest had told her once that she had a big butt. I called Eldest into the room and asked him if he'd said that. He said he had, a few months ago. I asked him if he thought she did have a big butt. He said he didn't, that he was just kidding because she was bugging him about something, and then he said he was sorry.
She kept looking at herself in the mirror, sticking her butt way out and saying, "It does make my butt look big." No amount of persuasion or mimicry on my part changed her mind. Her brother's admission didn't change her mind. This growing girl-child, hearing one negative comment from her dip of a brother, sucked it in and made it part of her truth.
But it is not truth. It is a lie. It is the lie many of us tell ourselves when we see the fat that doesn't exist. It is the lie that enables many of us to try diet pills and diets and starvation and purging. It is the lie that helps us cut ourselves to try to shed pain. It is the lie we see on billboards and in magazine ads and in the Hollywood stars we're supposed to aspire to be.
This girl-child of mine is fearless. I am in awe of what she will try to do: solo dancing in the school's talent show, acting in a regional kids' theater, taking part in dance recitals, running for student council, always raising her hand to answer any question posed, etc. I want that to continue to be her truth.
The truths set us free. The lies serve only to keep us down.
Here she is in that talent show last month, dancing to the song "Fabulous," having choreographed it herself: