We were all laughing and smiling until our faces hurt. It was a calm, beautiful day out on the lake and I couldn’t really think of anywhere I’d rather have been at that moment than on a boat with friends.
My boy was at my side, watching his youngest sister try to learn to water ski. My middle daughter sat in the front, letting the breeze at the bow blow wisps of brunette hair away from her brow. She absentmindedly poked at her calf and turned to the girl beside her.
“I have plump legs,” she declared.
“You have what?” the teen girl queried, perhaps thinking she’d misheard.
“They’re plump. See?” She poked again.
I’m sorry to admit that my first response was actually laughter, but it was. I mean…
Of all the nine-year-old girls I run into, C. is perhaps one of the LEAST likely to be labelled “plump” in any way. Skinny, scrawny, bony, waif-ish… those are all more likely categories that she’d be tossed in.
And so, honestly, it struck me as funny when she stabbed a finger into a rail-thin calf and declared it “plump.” The absurdity of it caused a giggle to erupt before I could even really think about it.
But now I have thought about it. And it makes me kind of sad.
I mean… I look at those two girls above.
They’re both healthy. Neither one has ever had a weight-related health issues (I mean, once C. got ON the charts, that is). G. probably looks thick and sturdy to you when you see her next to C, but if you saw her among a peer group, you wouldn’t think so.
Do I really think C. views herself as “plump”? Probably not. I don’t actually think she has a strong grasp of the word’s meaning. A vague understanding, yes, but not a clear picture.
So why does it matter?
I think it matters because she’s obviously seen and heard other girls or women poke their bodies in a self-deprecating way while sighing about being “plump.” It wasn’t me in this case, but I only know that because I don’t use that particular word.
But I use others. I am positively vile to myself sometimes. If a friend spoke to me the way I spoke to myself? I’d want to slap her upside her nasty little face.
I’m failing miserably at this whole “model self love” thing.
I’m not sure I really know how to do it.
And then G. scrambles back onto the boat, climbing easily and pulling her weight around a post one-handed, muscles bunching.
She beams up at me. “Don’t I have big shoulders, Mommy?”
Before I can figure out how to even answer that, she tosses her wet braid and grins over one of those tanned shoulders.
“I’m so glad, because these shoulders help me do ANYTHING!”
I guess maybe that’s how you model self-love.