Mother of two Allison Kimmey was cleaning her kitchen when she noticed something very peculiar in the garbage can: one of her daughter’s dolls laid stretched out on top of the trash pile. But this wasn’t just any doll; it was her 5-year-old’s only Curvy Barbie.
For the average mom, kids throwing away perfectly good toys is frustrating enough. But Kimmey is no average mom. She’s a plus-size role model who spends her days encouraging women to love their bodies exactly as they are. And in this moment, she was having trouble understanding the sight in front of her.
The conversation that followed between the mom and daughter was so powerful, Kimmey decided to share it her on her Instagram page.
The talk started out simple enough, with her daughter Cambelle admitting to throwing the doll away. But when Kimmey asked her why, her child’s casual response felt brutal: she simply didn’t like Curvy Barbie because she was bigger than the other dolls.
Immediately, Kimmey found herself fighting back the tears. For much of her life, the mom struggled with the very same issues that led Cambelle to toss her doll in the garbage.
“It was as if Curvy Barbie’s life was a reflection of the way I felt for so long, being a plus-size woman in a thin woman’s world. I always felt like my arms weren’t right, my legs were big, and anywhere I went, nothing fit. For a very long time I allowed those perceptions and the constricts of society make me feel as if I was the trash,” the mom writes.
Kimmey made sure to help her daughter understand the implications of getting rid of a doll just because it didn’t look like the others.
The mom also left her followers with one important final message:
“[Each] time I am put in a position where I can ignore these early signs for body image issues and pass them off as “oh she’s just a kid playing … maybe she really just doesn’t like this one, it doesn’t REALLY matter” OR I can make a conscious effort to help her dissect how she’s feeling, allow her to explain her discomfort, and give her a new loving perspective,” she notes.
As you can imagine, the post went viral immediately with over 7.8K likes and hundreds of moms tearfully cheering Kimmey on for choosing to have a tough but necessary conversation with her daughter. It was a talk the self-love advocate knew she couldn’t shrink away from, especially since Cambelle’s at such an early stage in her development.
“These moments, although they may seem small, are very transformational and can redirect the course of her belief system. Being involved in her development allows me the opportunity to intervene and help her see a different perspective, even when everything around her is trying to tell her something different,” she tells Babble.
And this differing perspective is critical for our children, especially young girls in our society. According to Kimmey, a vast majority of girls have already considered altering their bodies, which makes it all the more critical for parents to encourage self-acceptance.
“By the time they are 10, 80 percent of girls have already tried dieting,” she says. “I want parents to understand how impressionable their minds are, and that any indication of body image issues now should be handled, so that they do not go any further into childhood and turn into disordered eating patterns, depression, self-harm, or general self-hatred.”
And while it’s definitely positive that more body-inclusive dolls are being made, Kimmey wants parents to remember that human beings are the best models for change that our children will ever have.
“Let’s not be afraid to have conversations with our kids about how people can be different colors, different shapes, different sizes, [have] different abilities, and how that is okay,” the mom says.
As a plus-size mom myself, Kimmey’s post struck a deep chord with me. I spent decades of my life painfully restricting my food and constantly forcing my body to be smaller, until birthing my daughter in 2015 changed my body and the ongoing battles I had with it. Now, I choose to consciously embody the self-love I want my 2-year-old daughter and 11-year old stepdaughter to embrace as they grow. My journey is in large part due to stumbling upon Kimmey’s Instagram a year ago, which has served as a conduit for positive transformation in my own body-acceptance journey.
And now, whenever I want to tear myself down, I remember to channel Kimmey’s inspiring example.
“When we say degrading remarks to ourselves in the mirror, when we downgrade our abilities, [and] when we say we can’t do something because of our size, we are telling our children the same exact things. Our belief systems become their belief systems,” she tells Babble.
If only we could all find the courage to love ourselves as fiercely as this mama has.
Thanks, Allison Kimmey!