I am on the bleachers next to my mom. There are many other mothers -- and probably fathers, too -- filling the bleachers. My mom, clad in shorts, is chatting with other mothers about God-only-knows-what. ['Cause, really, is there anything more boring than hearing adult talk when you're a kid? Particularly way-back-when, when good mothers didn't drop f-bombs in front of their children?]
"I hope when I grow up I don't have all those purple and red lines on my legs."
Am I an embarrassment of a colossal nature or what?
I remember how horrified my mom was. I didn't know what the big deal was then.
By the time I am 13, I no longer wear shorts. My thighs are too, too fat. They are hideous. No matter the weather, I am clad in jeans. We're talking humid Virginia summer weather.
Eventually, I grow into myself. I accept my thoughts, first. And I accept my feelings, second. And I accept my body, finally. Long before I have children, I am comfortable wearing whatever. I do not care what I look like or how I appear to others. I am happy with who I am. [Which isn't to say I don't worry if I gain weight. I am lucky in that my metabolism -- pre-menopause, mind you, so I reserve the right to complain later -- is good and I haven't packed on too many pounds over the years.]
Daughter's friend has just completed fifth grade. She heads off to middle school next year. And she is very happy that sandals and flip flops are verboten in the dress code.
Because she has ugly toes.
I cross my fingers that my free-spirited, nary-a-care-in-the-world Daughter keeps feeling free to be herself. I will do my best to counter the toxic spread of self-doubt and self-hate that so many girls -- and women who were once girls -- seem to do their damnedest to not only hold onto but to spread as well.
Me, acting the lifeguard at the swim party I hosted a couple of weeks ago.