To whom it may concern,
I am angry. My hands are shaking. My chest feels tight as if it might burst with indignation. How dare you? How could you do this to her? She's just a little girl. I want to hurt you, the one responsible; show you my child standing there in the fitting room, swimsuits crumpled on the floor around her; her hands covering her face. Crying. Embarrassed. Feeling deformed, inadequate, unlovable. My beautiful, talented, sensitive 10-year-old girl.
Who can I blame for this hole in her heart? Who made her stop believing that she is lovely just as she was made? Who made her start measuring her value in inches and pounds and shades of blond? Who took her innocence away from her too young, when she should still be dreaming of fairies and unicorns?
Was it the you, glossy check-out stand magazines that we never buy but often discuss? Covered with goddesses so perfect in ways my God never created. Was it you, movie after movie with well-lit starlets that show love only comes to the beautiful? Was it me, bemoaning again and again the weight I couldn't lose, the loss of my youthful beauty?
Who made her believe that none of it matters? Her brain, her talent, her enormous heart? My daughter who is not overweight. How can I undo what you have done to her when you did it to me too, when I am still fighting to shut your voice out of my head. I wish I could hurt you the way you hurt her, I wish my love for her was sharp enough to cut you out of her mind. I hate you.
In the car on the way home from this shopping trip filled with tears and self-doubt I pleaded with her.
"You are beautiful, Allie. You don't need to lose weight. You are perfect just the way you are. Gorgeous, in fact."
"That doesn't mean anything when you say it, mom" she countered, "You're my mom, you have to say it."
"So maybe I'll stop saying it" I said, quietly, at the end of my rope.
"No mom" the bite completely gone now from her voice
"Please don't stop saying it"