People make fun of my middle child for her size.
No, she’s not overweight. No, she’s not of Amazon height. No, she’s not the shortest kid in school.
She’s just… well, skinny.
(See? I’ve always fed her. Even when she stole my food when I was 7 months pregnant. )
It comes from other kids sometimes:
“C’s SO skinny– look, you can see her VEINS!”
“It looks like her pants are going to fall off!”
“*snicker*– look, her underwear is hanging out!”
It comes from adults in different ways:
“Do you FEED her?”
“Is she always going to be kind of sickly, you know, ’cause of being so early?”
“She’s just so BONY. Is she okay?”
I could rattle off an easy half-dozen reasons why this precious little girl is built the way she is– fine-boned, thin-skinned, fragile, and slight. I could defend her appetite (which is excellent) and the array of foods she eats (which is vast.) I could confirm that, yes, I give her whole milk. And, yes, I know she’s very thin.
But I get sick of all that.
The thing is, I shouldn’t have to be defending her skinniness. Honestly, it shouldn’t even be a thing.
I think some people see that in my face. They watch a veil drop over my gaze and they know– this is not the right approach. We shouldn’t be criticizing this child’s weight (or lack thereof.)
And, usually, someone in the crowd will backtrack. They’ll smile widely, and say something like:
“She’ll have the last laugh– all the girls are going to be jealous of her in another 5, 10 years.”
“Boys LOVE tiny girls.”
“She’ll be so grateful for not having baby fat to lose.”
I usually smile weakly back. I say something inane like, “Well, I always figure at least she’s the small one and her brother’s the crazy-tall one– I think it’s probably easier for them this way.”
I wish I didn’t do that. I wish that weren’t my response. It’s not really honest.
Because, the truth is, it shouldn’t be okay to say those things, either.
I know that people’s hearts are in the right place when they make those remarks– they’re trying to be positive and encouraging and focus on the “good.”
But the reality is that anytime we’re attaching worth to a child’s size– whether positive or negative– we are failing them.
The fact that C. is remarkably slim isn’t something for which she should be shamed or criticized.
It also isn’t something to be celebrated.
It just is.
She is a funny, spunky, artsy, clumsy, sweet little girl– the traits that make her unique abound. There will be those who want to be her friend and those who do not. That’s all good.
But her value? Is not in her size.
It never will be.
And I hope we’re strong enough to help her find the confidence and awareness to be sure of that.