As I washed dishes the other day, my 8 year old daughter came into the kitchen, wrapped her little arms around my waist, buried her head in my chest and began to sob. When I pulled her head back and gazed into her sad eyes, I asked, "honey, what's wrong?"
She looked hopelessly at me and said "mom, I've tried on 7 different shirts. Nothing looks good on me. I'm too fat."
[INSERT BREAKING HEART RIGHT HERE]
Ahhh....the words I never wanted to hear her say. The issue I never wanted her to have to deal with. The feelings I never wanted her to have.
Sadly, she inherited my figure instead of her daddy's. Not that I have an awful figure, but it's just not that lean, lanky look that her daddy's side of the family has. On my side of the family, we tend to be "solid". No matter how much weight I lose, I'll never have that teensy tiny petite look (that we girls LOVE) because I just have bigger bones and thicker skin, it seems. I know it sounds like I'm whining but I honestly think that people with genes like mine have to work twice as hard to have defined muscles and a lean look. It just doesn't come natural at ALL. Matt's side of the family on the other hand, its like their bodies were just born with great muscle fiber and a more "thin" skin that lets all the right curves and bumps show. (Grant got that body).
Anyway, I read an article the other day in a magazine about the fine line between modesty and shamefulness.
It's one thing to want to "cover up" because we want to respect God and our husbands with how we dress. But it's another thing entirely when we wear big moo-moo shirts because we are ashamed of our bodies.
As a mother, I definitely want to instill a sense of modesty in my daughter. It's important so that as she grows into a teen, I don't have to fight her about short skirts and low-cut shirts and belly-button rings. If I teach her now what the Bible says about modesty and how just the slightest bit of "too-much-skin" can affect boys, then she will desire it (modesty) for herself.
On the other hand, I definitely don't want her to feel shameful or embarrased about her body.
So how do you develop confidence and self-esteem without vanity and pride? How do you teach modesty but avoid shame?
Ugh! Parenting is so much more complicated than it looks!
On top of all of this, the sad thing is that she was right. None of her clothes do look very good. They make these clothes for these little girls to fit snug against the skin. That is not flattering unless you are a twig (and especially un-flattering if you are already starting to turn into a young lady up top).
So what do I do? Do I put her on a "diet"? Do I make her start exercising? Do I go out and buy her new clothes?
We already eat very healthy in our house and I have eliminated having junk food in the house at all. Obviously Matt and I exercise daily. The kids don't "exercise" but they run around outside and play, ride their bikes and do gymnastics so they're getting some activity.
Do I tell her "honey, you're not fat. You look beautiful." Or do I say (more honestly) "yes, you need to start watching what you eat and getting more exercise."
Even right now as I type this, I am watching her try on every shirt in her closet and come out with a hugh sigh every time because she hates the way she looks. This just shouldn't be something she has to deal with at age EIGHT!
I feel like I'm standing on a fence, walking a thin line and if I fall off to either side I'm going to totally mess her up. Anyone have any advise?