Tuesday 30 August 2016

Talking Body Shapes and Size

Image Credit: Fat & Lean woman

I think it's been really good for my girls spending lots of time by the pool during our holiday in Spain, they have seen people (and let's be honest by people, I mean women) of all shapes and sizes wearing whatever it is that pleases them and of course that is how it should be. We are all different and our character and style is unique, so my desire to wear a one piece bathing suit is different to someone else's desire to wear a g-string.

There have been some strange comments like 'Mum, do you think all these people know how big they are and they are wearing bikinis?', 'you look really big in that Mummy' and 'can you swim if you are that fat?' I've been challenged by each of these statements both as a mother and a larger lady but pleased that they have presented the opportunity to again talk with my girls. The conversations have gone along the lines of people being able to wear whatever makes them happy, that bikinis are not just for super slim women, that I am more than just my size and that people of all shapes and sizes can swim really well.

It does trouble me where they have both got this body size obsession from. You might jump to the conclusion if you've seen me that it is down to me as I'm large but I never express dissatisfaction with my body size/ shape in front of them and I have never commented on others either. I am really open with the girls, I acknowledge that I am overweight, but I do not flinch when they touch me, they see me exercise and they have seen me eating more healthily as they know it is not ideal to be as big as me. However, I have always been really clear that it is not 'bad' to be fat but it can cause health issues and that is why I should try to be healthier. I tend to talk in health and fitness terms rather than size or weight as I feel it is much more important.

Perhaps just my being fat is enough to have scarred them? Maybe they are scared of ending up the same way as me? Maybe the cruel playground comments about me have upset them? Or perhaps it is the things I allow them to eat, the way I allow them to live their life that will lead to them being fat? I don't know, parenting and trying to navigate the minefield that is raising kids is immensely hard and like everyone else I'm just trying to do my imperfect best. Yes it worries the inner me if I see there is more weight on their little bodies than I think is ideal but I never give them any indication of this and I remember that each one of my three children is growing and changing and puberty is approaching and their bodies now will not at all be indicative of their bodies as adults. I would never ask them to change or diet.

What is it about living in the UK that makes people obsessed with how women look? The hotel where we were staying had people from all nations and us Brits were very much in the minority but I noticed it was only the British women that sat there with their arms crossed over their tummy and wearing a one piece swimsuit. The Russians, the Germans and the Spanish, to name just a few of the many nationalities were all in bikinis and as brown as berries. Maybe that is it, they are more used to the sun and having their skin on show?

I don't really have any answers, that is the difficult thing. All I know is that I need to keep encouraging my girls to accept themselves just as they are and when they are older if they decide for any reason that they don't like what they see when they look in the mirror then they need to take positive steps towards change or acceptance. They just have to be careful not to allow their bodies to become an obsession.

My prayer for them both is that they will be brave and bold enough to just be the wonderful and unique person that God created them to be, it makes no odds if that person is a size 10, 14 or 22.

Just look at them, aren't they fabulous?

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