“Mama, the other girls are all skinny. Why am I different?” 10-year-old Tish recently asked her mother, Glennon Doyle Melton, activist, speaker, and author.
In an extremely emotional essay posted on her blog, the former bulimic and mother-of-three details how she handled the complex question, which took her on an emotional journey back to her own childhood struggles, and how she used her own experience and wisdom to help her baby girl ultimately empower herself in an unbelievable way.
“We talked about all the messages girls get about staying small and quiet and competitive and how that’s all horseshit meant to keep girls weak and separate from each other, so we can’t join forces and lead. We talked about how hard and wonderful it is to have a body, and we talked about what, exactly, bodies are for. I did my best,” she wrote about the self-esteem pep talk she gave her daughter.
Then, she took her daughter to the bookstore, where they noticed a magazine rack filled with covers flaunting emaciated women. She continued the dialogue, explaining to her that women’s bodies are worth so much more than selling things.
“That’s why this feels bad to you,” she told her. “Because this is a lie. There’s nothing wrong with you baby. There’s something wrong with THIS.”
Shortly after they returned home, her daughter blew her away when she presented her with this petition, which is absolutely everything.
As a mother who struggled with body image issues for over two decades, this scenario literally brought tears to my eyes.
Just this morning my husband and I were cuddling in bed with our 4-month-old daughter and joking about her sweet baby rolls of fat. And for a moment it crossed my mind that one day, this incredibly perfect and beautiful creature, will probably struggle with her own self worth.
Whether it’s because she doesn’t feel pretty enough or skinny enough, or that her legs are too short or her nose is too big, the inevitability that this flawless being, my flesh and blood, will feel pain because of society’s screwed up standards of beauty, weighted my heart. I thought to myself: It is my responsibility to love her just the way she is, no matter what, and to instill a positive value system in her not only through my words, but also in my actions and the way I treat myself.
But when I saw this petition, it became clear to me that my plan wasn’t enough.
This little girl reminded me that we have to tackle this issue not only within our own homes, but we need to take it public, demanding change at the highest levels of influence, which happens to be the media.
Sure, we have made progress in the last few years. When I was going through puberty, everyone wanted to be stick thin like Kate Moss. Now, curves are a whole lot cooler and we have a new definition of sexy. But should there really be a definition of sexy? Like Tish suggests, shouldn’t we be celebrating all women, regardless of their external beauty?
“I think magazines should show girls who are strong, kind, brave, thoughtful, unique, and show women of all different types of hair and bodies,” she writes. “ALL women [should] be treated EQUALLY.”
I applaud Tish for figuring out at 10 what I struggled with for almost my entire life, and when it comes time for me to have this conversation with my own daughter, like Tish’s mother, I’ll use it to empower her.
h/t: CosmopolitanMore On