3.01.2011

I like big butts and I cannot lie

Sunday night I had this hankering to tune out and look at women in gorgeous gowns. Honestly, I was wholly clueless as to the movies up for nomination but I am wholly interested in people passionate about their craft. And I like gorgeous gowns.

We only get the few freebie, antennae-fetching channels and couldn't tune into whatever channel we needed to see the Oscars. So, instead, Andy went to bed and Margot and I watched The Blue Planet through netflix.

"Mama, what IS that?"

"A crab laying her eggs. The eggs hold baby crabs."

"She better hurry up," as the ocean tosses the frantic shellfish all about, her bony arms overhead, her eyes wide.

"Yeah that's pretty wild to imagine isn't it?"

"I think I am going to dream about lions tonight. And maybe sharks but probably just lions."

The conversation was kind of like if we had been watching the red carpet parade.

"Mama, what IS that?"

"A woman in a crazy blue dress. The dress holds a ton of gasps and gossip."

"She better hurry up," as the crowd propels the glowing starlet all about, her bony arms overhead, her eyes wide."

"Yeah that's pretty wild to imagine isn't it?"

"I think I am going to dream about lions tonight. And maybe sharks but probably just lions."

This week's mama digs explores an offhand comment Margot made about a woman's butt at the post office and all the body image inner dialog I experienced. Click to read good food and strong quads.

Photobucket


43 comments:

Jessie said...

I love it. Thanks for the smile!

megan said...

great article! maybe you're eating disorder has helped you understand the pain deeper than most women... which can benefit your daughters... your pain is their gain? you are such a strong, beautiful woman now that i'm not sure what else but that would rub off on your children. thank you for sharing as always.

missy@allireallyneed said...

thankyou - what a great article. As a mother of 3 daughters this topic is near and dear to me...my eldest is in her first year of public school and already I see these image issues playing out and feel terrified about how to navigate them. I guess dealing with my own image issues and modeling "healthy" is the best place to start.

I totally relate to the painful, hushed, waiting in line experience - with everyone always watching.

rebecca said...

,,,thank you for "nuggs" this week,,,lot's of great food for thought,,,(smile)

Annie said...

I enjoyed your article. Hits close to home!

Ali said...

Gorgeous piece of writing there.

Ali the Appreciative,
Geneva, Switzerland

Charity said...

Kids say the darnist things. But I never quite put it into the perspective you had, in terms of everyones beauty. See everytime we go out our 14 year old son(w/ d.s)comments on someone. He once told a black woman to wash her hands because they were lighter. He tells complete strangers that dad has a big bald head, ugh!
I try to explain to others to see upset when he does things like this so he can see someone elses emotions. They never do.
Maybe instead of trying to change the situation, I need to accept this is why we love these people

Bikini By 30 said...

You're a good mommy.

Happiness is... said...

Wow did this article hit at the right time. Alex and her little friend Enzo saw a girl with green hair the other day when we were eating pizza. Enzo stood up in the booth, extended his arm in a strong point, and said as loud as day, "Mommy, she has green hair" no less than 3 times in 10 seconds. So started the discussion about not pointing, and I was left with a loss of how to handle the same situation with Alex. It's true, they think a rump is as normal as having blue sparkly shoes. It's a comment, not a jab. But as adults, we see those innocent comments as something moreso. They don't know.

I read your article and my heart dropped at the Margot's comment and then my stomach clenched at your commentary back to eating disorders. Too many of us have experienced the damage of eating disorders; hurting yourself to satisfy an outside perception trapped in your own head.

We cannot protect our children, but we can educate, teach empathy, and consciously guide our children to love their differences. It starts at home, loving yourself. Loving your own differences and embracing them. Children learn best from their closest example - their own family.

My girl is going to be tall. I dread her having to survive 13 when she will be so long and 1/10th of her adult weight. I look forward to reading others' comments, so maybe I'll have someone else's experience to help me. And your story alone is helping me build the tools in my box of parenting skills.

Thanks DIg.

-Jennifer from Annapolis

Ellie said...

dang it, you beat me to the Sir Mix-A-Lot reference! :)You have such a gift for turing stressful or difficult situations into opportunities to teach - I really admire that!

Daniele said...

This made me think of a time when I was about 14, I was at a convenient store with a friend standing in line talking with her. This was before I'd yet had braces and I had a space between my two front teeth. A boy, must have been about 4, says to me, what is wrong with your teeth? I was so mortified. I already disliked my smile so much at that age...and I remember feeling like, if a little kid is noticing then it must really be bad! All his mom said was something like, oh don't say that, it's not nice, which actually mortified me further. Those are hard situations for all involved!

Terri Holt said...

As I was reading this emotions stirred in me too….you have it so right Burb.,,,,because of you your girls will have it so right also.

xoxo

Jen said...

via mamalode.com:

You raise such an important topic of discussion here, Nici! As a mother of a sixth grade girl, there already are major red flags with some of the classmates. THe issue is one that society needs to look at closely. Being bombarded with ads and media of “beautiful models” do not do girls ANY favors. And I must say it isn’t just girls, either. My 8th grade son is not immune. We, as a society, have to start modeling beauty a different way!

You handled it beautifully, but putting the seriousness aside for a minute, I did have to chuckle at Margo. I can’t tell you how many times I was in the same boat when my kids were little….from balding heads, to different sizes and colors of people, to “houses on wheels.” I must say, it made for some good (and entertaining) conversations!
Love,
Jen

Julie said...

via mamalode.com:

Nici,
This made me think of a trailer I watched last week. One of my old high school friends is making this documentary, and I think you will really enjoy the subject matter…I’ll let you know when its finished. Title is: On Beauty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zOPXTusNik
Thanks for my Monday dose of reflection,
Julie

Jenn said...

via mamalode.com:

I wish I could adequately express how much I appreciate your perspective and your ability to share it through your writing.

You are not alone on this journey. “How do I teach my kids that every body is beautiful and amazing but please don’t ever talk about it?” This is a question I ask myself many times. I want my sons to see more than what is presented to them with their eyes. To understand that they are different and it’s okay, actually no, it’s great!

I’ve always thought that my kids are my greatest teachers. They bring up that old stuff that I need to deal with and they usually put the answers out there for me too. So perhaps, Margot gave you the answers you need. Accept that past for what it is and move on to the milk (and cookies), the good stuff.

I hope you and your family enjoy your week! Looking forward to nuggets. Ooo, I almost forgot. Nothing wrong with homeschooling and living on the farm, that’s my dream We started homeschooling this year and love it, that farm dream will have to wait though, but I don’t mind, we’ll get there.

Dakota said...

Thank you for sharing this… I am not particularly looking forward to the awkward stage my kid commenting on everything… appropriate or not, and it’s nice to see how another mother handled it and other folks’ reactions to it.

Unfortunately, having been homeschooled through 8th grade and being fairly isolated from tv, magazines, and anything else that should have influenced my body image, and I can tell you that it absolutely doesn’t work. I started thinking I was fat and tried going on “diets” when I was 8… and I had nothing but positive reinforcement from my family about my body.

6512 and growing said...

via mamalode.com:

My daughter asked a visiting friend about the baby in her belly, except there was no baby in there. Then she wanted to touch my friend’s belly and snuggle with it.

We talked about it later. It’s a hard thing to put into words, how bellies are different and wonderful but that we don’t actually want to point out the differences sometimes, but we do like to point out how we love the differences in say, someone’s barrettes.

I have friends who purposely told her daughter that she was strong and smart and fast and kind, but didn’t mention beautiful. Then her daughter got to kindergarten and somehow began to believe that she wasn’t beautiful and that it mattered. My friends wondered if they should have told her daughter that she was beautiful.

We just have to learn as we go along, parents and children. I thin you are doing an honorable and fantastic job Nici.

Zoe said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh Nici. This one hits close to home for me too. Well, not so much for me, but in my continuing process of grappling with my own daughter’s experiences. How her self-image and body image developed so negatively, regardless of anything her dad and I did or said, any discussion we had about images in the media, her sports, her arts… once she hit about 7th grade, it all went fuhkakta.
It’s a big huge issue, and definitely one that affects boys too, in terms of how they see girls as well as themselves, and it’s one that, no matter what we do, we don’t know if we got it right until they’re really big… like teenager/young adult big.
We’re batting 50/50. One is doing great, and hasn’t ever really been crisis-ridden. One’s middle name is crisis.
We really do to learn as we go. I have on many occasions wished that they were born with a cute little butt tattoo… “This model will requires such and such at this or that time…” You could copy it down as reference material. But then, where’s the sense of adventure?
And man, is it EVER a learn as we go adventure!

memomuse (Megan) said...

via mamalode.com:

I really enjoy your essays. This one in particular. You got very vulnerable here in your writing. I wish you would have gone deeper into your eating disorder and the thick roots that curl around the toes of our insecurities…maybe in your book someday. Very creative nonfiction. Bravo.
PS – Your writing is so good I get jealous sometimes. Ever read Anne Lamott?

Leah Lewis said...

via mamalode.com:

I hear you, sister…this is such a topic at the forefront of my mind as my oldest daughter is submerged in middleschool. Let’s keep this discussion going!

Nancy de Pastino said...

I am always blown away by how similar our experiences are. And you write what I can’t even articulate. I’m incredibly grateful for your insights, Nici. Best wishes to you and your girls!

clove's corner said...

via mamalode.com:

I learn so much from reading about your navigations of parenting daughters. Here we are floating a calm river then we round a bend and BAM! all of a sudden a hidden eddy flips the canoe. You are a couple of years ahead of me (Juniper is 6 weeks older than Ruby) and I so look forward to following your navigational writing for years to come.

And, ugh, body image. I was a gymnast growing up and shortly after puberty developed an eating disorder myself. If moving to a farm and homeschooling could protect my daughter from the woes of body image, I would do it in a heartbeat. But alas…..

Rebecca said...

,,,”good food and strong quads”,,,RIGHT ON!,,,

MinnesotaGal said...

via mamalode.com:

I still hear about the time I told my grandma that I love her belly “because it’s big and fluffy just like a pillow.” And it I honestly LOVED her belly and resting my head on it – the perfect warm pillow! I’m sure she cringed at that but it was said out of love.
Bodies are beautiful in so many ways. (Not that America doesn’t have it’s issues with serious, health threatening obesity) As long as our bodies are healthy who cares what they look like. I think that good foods and strong quads is a perfect way of expressing that. Let’s take the focus away from what our bodies look like and instead focus on what they can do for us. Not what we can’t or shouldn’t eat but what food will fuel and strengthen us. (ie: not “I shouldn’t eat that brownie because I will get fat” instead “that brownie isn’t going to do anything to help my body grow stronger/healthier – but those tomatoes will!”) Living and eating healthily should happen automatically as a result.

Joanna said...

Yep. That fat thing is something us girls all have to contend with. At least most girls I think. And it is so hard to explain to our little ones. They don’t yet equate fat=insult. Wish they didn’t ever have to. It is such a struggle! You are an amazing role model, and hopefully our girls (community, not mine, since I don’t have any) will grow up loving their bodies. If only we could get the fashion industry to depict normal bodies as beautiful. Maybe someday. xoxo

Susan S. said...

via mamalode.com:

Hi Nici! It seems like there’s another person in this story who has a responsibility. Speaking as a member of the junk-in-the-trunk sisterhood, I haven’t escaped the media influence about what my body “should” look like. But I understand that my body image angst is MY burden. It does not belong to the kiddo who hasn’t learned to be malicious with her words and is just making a simple observation. For me to come down on her for an innocent observation would only hurt her feelings and reinforce the taboo around talking about (and being!) different body shapes. So, I would choose to difference the kiddo has pointed out and maybe bring the subject around to ways we’re similar, too. For example, yes, “I do have a big giant bum. I also have blue eyes, very much like Ruby’s. Cool, huh? Do you know somebody else who has red hair like mine?”

You are doing a great job, Nici. The negative experiences in our own past can seep into our present and influence our children so insidiously. I GREATLY admire your conscious efforts not to let that happen.

Hillary said...

Girl- you got it! Just take one day at a time. Your girls will grow up to be confident, beautiful women with their mamma as their role model.

Melina said...

Your Mamma Digs made me actually shiver with the power of this one statement:

I am in no fucking hurry to let them onto this information.

I paraphrased, but the important thing is that you swore. You don't swear often, in fact i've never heard you say the F word (in your writing), meaning you reserved that word for when you really mean it.

And you should mean it! When I have a daughter, my heart will tear just thinking of the full on battle she'll have, along with all women, when it comes to body image, stereotypes, judgments, and expectations.

Well done.

I want to pull aside every teenage girl that I work with and say, "Hey, I've got a big booty! I do! Check it out! And guess what, I LOVE it, and so do most people I know! I mean, total strangers comment on it, which probably isn't okay but, I kind of love it!"

You have lucky daughters. ;)

Melina

Meghan said...

I've got to say thank you first as I think I am one of the recipients of those 17 packages. My shirt looks awesome in person and I'm looking forward to putting my little one in his stuff tomorrow.

I really resonate with what you are saying about your own body image and wanting to do well by the next generation. For myself, I found that motherhood has been unexpectedly an incredible gift to embrace the awesomeness of my body in ways it was difficult for me to do before. I grew a human being (and am still growing one in many ways). That is amazing!

Thanks for your reflection and thoughtfulness on this subject and for your art. I appreciate your voice leading me out in my motherhood journey.

TRB Holt said...

I love you so much Margot Bea!

xoxo, Gram

Paige said...

If you discover the trick to raising a confident girl who is never self-conscious about her own body... you will win a noble peace prize. If anyone can do it you can. I look forward to hearing how the lessons progress.

Annie said...

via mamalode.com:

I’ve been there. And it is often challenging and such a struggle to do what you feel is right for your children and what is also right for other people.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh, and there it is. Your self-censorship spilled out after all and it made me smile and maybe that particular word has never made me smile quite so hard, but what are you gonna do?

I love this post. It reminds me so much of my own thoughts on Asian eyes and brown skin and curly hair and I SO want to get it all right. I am right there with you on the differences thing. Who ever taught us that to point out a difference was a bad thing?

We watched home videos two nights ago and Ruby saw her tiny-girl self and said, “I look just like Darth Vader because he’s black and I’m black!”

Wha????? It struck us so oddly that she chose the word “black”, since we always go with brown. I wanted to have her say/think/see things a bit differently, but you know what? Homegirl loved the fact that she looked like DV.

ps – We played house yesterday and Ruby’s dolls were named Margot (or maybe Margaux, I didn’t check the spelling) and Alice. It was a bit of a Twilight Zone moment for me. I played house with the Cline trifecta.

psss – In the end, it seems Angelina Ballerina has two friends named A and M.

pssss – Will I ever shut up here?

psssss – I will.

Erika said...

via mamalode.com:

I’ve been there: in the grocery store my daughter said, in the same three-year old way, “that lady has the biggest bum I’ve ever seen.” She could have been saying that lady has the bluest eyes or the biggest purse she’d ever seen–her comment carried no criticism, but I knew my reaction had to be just right. That remains one of my top ten “oh I have to navigate this carefully” mothering moments. I loved your thoughts on it, and your reaction to her comment. Thanks for sharing.

Backyard Safari said...

Great post! I really appreciate you teaching your children that all body shapes are great! I think Susan (commenter above) makes a really good point as well–I spent most of my life thin and in shape but recently gained about a fair amount of weight due to loving food and moving less. Not too many people have said anything about it but I really don’t like the fact that the simple sentence “You’ve gained weight.” is seen as an insult! I wish it was just a fact, like “you’ve cut your hair,” and that is how I try to think of it.
I also read a story once (similar to those people have posted above) about a woman working with kids. One kid hugged her and proclaimed that she was the best at hugging because she was so squishy. The other people were mortified but she took it as a compliment–she was great to hug! What could be better than that?

I think you are doing a great thing by teaching Margot that she shouldn’t mention it only because sometimes people feel bad about it, rather than just that it’s off limits or that it IS bad. I hope someday, though, that more people make the difficult journey to loving their bodies and can talk to your daughter about it like Susan’s comment says without being embarrassed.

P.S. For the record, I also have a large ass now that I’ve gained weight and I really LOVE it! I’m actually afraid of losing it when I finally get in shape. I wish your daughter had said this to me instead so I could have shaken my booty with her in the post office

Finny said...

via mamalode.com:

As a non-kid-haver I can’t even imagine how to handle a situation like this from your position.

However, I dig Susan S.’s viewpoint. This kind of approach will lead to conscientious and thoughtful kids that notice differences and similarities not as right and wrong, but just as they exist in the world.

Maybe they will even learn how to communicate more effectively and be compassionate.

Kate Vaughan said...

via mamalode.com:

Oh it’s so tough to do the right thing for your kids. We talk about this all the time – we have a 13 month old daughter and really want her to grow up with that sense that not only are bodies different from one another (and okay that way), but that they are just bodies, one small fraction of who we are. How do you teach very concrete little people that integrity, humor, kindness and compassion are really what make people who they are – the shell is just that? At the same time, you don’t want your child to think they’re unattractive because you don’t ever talk about them being beautiful (interesting point from a previous poster).

We don’t own a TV, in part to avoid the constant “you must be beautiful or you’re worthless” messaging that is ubiquitous in the media. But we’re finding that it is impossible to escape, regardless. We went shopping to a certain large clothing store (that rhymes with Mold Mavy) to look for summer-wear for our one year old, only to find that the toddler-girl shorts were cut at crotch level, while the toddler boy shorts were cut to their knees. The girl shirts generally said asinine things about love and princesses, while the boy shirts were about action and adventure. Ugh, don’t get me started on girl versus boy swimsuits! It starts at birth, this pervasive social agenda about girls/women having and displaying their bodies and boys doing with their bodies.

Angie said...

via mamalode.com:

Wow, this has to be my favorite post evah. I’m a mama. I’ve got three littles, 2 boys ages 6 & 3 & a girl, 17 months. I bust my butt every single morning to get to that perfect number on the scale. Get up at 5, head to the gym, run or elliptical or class or any other contraption that I feel like getting on, then weights, then ab work. I’ve never had an eating disorder but I know my relationship with exercise is probably on the unhealthy addiction side of things… I’m curious how you got beyond your disorder. I squirm when I see my baby girl watching me pinch the pudge in the mirror. I need to get my act together before I cause any damage in her or my boys. What would you suggest? I really, really, really just want to be happy with me. I’m almost 33 for crying out loud, my body has given me the most beautiful treasures of all and losing the last 3 pounds should be the last thing on my mind. Hmmm, I’m feeling very much like I should delete everything I just typed. But strangely I feel better just getting it out. Please don’t think I’m crazy!!

Happy Tuesday to ya

XOXO,
Angie from Ohio

Oh, and that flower patch farmgirl just cracks me up

sarah said...

via mamalode.com:

Auuuuugh…count me amongst the mamas who can relate to the constant internal struggle between showing my 3 yr old daughter (and 6 month old son) how to have a healthy relationship with her body and to appreciate and accept the shape of other bodies while internally dealing with old eating disorder demons as well. All we can do is take one day (or moment) at a time, right? I think you handled that situation as well as could be expected!

Abby said...

via mamalode.com:

Well written mama!
A few years back I was with friends and their 5 year old noticed my booty… “your bum’s bigger than my dads and my dads is bigger than mine!” His dad was mortified and went about correcting and apologising. Inside I curled up and grabbed hold of those body insecurities that run rampant behind the scenes but my mind screamed “HANG ON A MINUTE” and I heard myself saying “No. He’s right he is just pointing out exactly what he can see…. he isnt being mean.” and it felt right to let it go at that.

Now years down the track I have 2 boys and a baby girl and like everyone I want to raise them to see the beauty within themselves as well as others. To compliment rather than criticize. It takes a conscious effort everyday and with 3 cuties 4 years and under it is hard not to get distracted and give the easy quick flip answer… but I think the important thing is that we are all trying to make the next generation think outside the box that we have grown up in.

than you for this fantastic post!

Jill said...

via mamalode.com:

So, my 5 year old’s friend said “your Mom is fat” and my cute daughter said, “we don’t say the “F” word at our house!” I have struggled with my weight for years, but refuse to let it ruin my life or make me miserable. I hope that is a good thing for my 2 daughters to see. I try to be healthier, but at the same time, love and accept who I am.

Jenn Furber said...

via mamalode.com:

You are so right. I think acceptance and tolerance comes honestly when it’s taught from the very beginning. Good job, mama, for praising the differences of form. We try so hard to to show our three ladies that although someone may be really small or really big, they’re really just right. I was teased for being too thin as a kid — tall and lean with a lightening metabolism. I yearned to be *just right* in everyone’s eyes. Too bad it took so long for me to realize I was *just right* all along.

Deb Bratton said...

via mamalode.com:


Nici, dear, you have come a l…o….n…g…way since those days in the 90′s that tormented you so, but brought you to where you are today. Sounds like you handled the situation with Margot perfectly. As a teacher and as your aunt, I hope that you do not choose to homeschool. Kids learn a lot of wonderful things in the school setting- one being learning to work cooperatively and getting along with others when you don’t always agree. Margot, I know, and I am sure Ruby as well, will offer a great deal to a classroom. And..and..and….the public schools DESPERATELY need smart, intelligent,involved, committed to education voices like your own. The MT legislature is not doing us any favors. I hope you will really think about this before you make that decision. LOVE YOU and YOURS..Aunt Deb

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