Sunday, June 24, 2007

my beautiful girl

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"

15 comments:

Christine said...

Oh, Joy. Never ever stop saying it to her.

This was amazing writing that struck right to the heart. My girl is only 6 but I so fear for the days when this happens to her, too. And you know what sucks? That I already know it will happen. It happens to most of us in the female realm. I hate it, too. HATE IT!

Keep loving the beautiful girl, Joy, and she will be just fine.

Leslie said...

I'm assuming that is your daughter in the picture...well, now I'm saying it, "She's beautiful!"

Great post!!!

slouching mom said...

could you tell her i, a total stranger to her, think she's gorgeous?

would that carry more weight than mom's opinion, which she believes is biased?

i do think she's beautiful. and i agree with every word you wrote here.

yet another reason why i am glad i don't have girls -- yours is a minefield i would be disheartened, and yes, enraged, like you, to navigate.

Don and Lynn said...

Oh, poor Allie! My heart breaks for her. I hate how society puts so much pressure on young girls to fit the "perfect" mold it defines. I hate those magazines and images that are flashed before them. That's why we've all but completely gotten rid of TV. The media's portrayal of girls and women is so unrealistic. Taylor is on the other end of the spectrum-worried about being too skinny. I worry that, in dance, other girls' jealousy that she is thin will ostracize her from the rest. That does happen with middle school-age girls-even if you don't have any obvious physical imperfection that they can pick on, they'll pick on the fact that you don't have one. KWIM? I think it's already starting to happen which is why it's now a problem for her. I'm sure she'll hear the comments "are you anorexic?" or "do you have an eating disorder?", etc. And the anwers will be "no, God made me this way." But I hate that she'll even have to encounter comments such as those. I think our job as moms during these years just has to be to get them through the tortuous comments of society and other pubescent girls with as little scars as possible. It's going to be a hard job!

Beck said...

She is a beautiful, beautiful girl. Who else sees our beauty as clearly and as radiantly as our mothers?

AmandaD said...

How 'bout if I say it too?

Allie-
I could tell you about your beautiful hair, your gorgeous lips your entire visage, but what I think you should hear is something else.

I see your sparkle and that is something that will never fade. No matter your weight or your age, your clothes or your wallet, you will always have that sparkle.

I know us older people don't know how it is in the hallways at school or in the stall in the bathroom while cliques gather and say nasty things. But we really do know beauty, strength and magic. And you've got it in spades.

And you sweet mama, hang in there. Call on us when you feel you are at your wit's end, we'll be here.

Fierce love to you all.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Oh my goodness. I don't even know what to say, except that this is a terrible world.

My daughter has a bit of a chubby little body, and it makes me crazy when people point this out. She's two! And she's beautiful and healthy.

I even buy into it sometimes and fret about how she isn't skinny like other kids I see.

Madness, I tell you! Keep reassuring that beautiful sprite that she is perfect.

thirtysomething said...

Oh my heart aches to read your post. How true it is. Our girls, thanks mostly to the media, are made to see themselves as unacceptable from such an early age. I too fell for it when I was oh so young. It saddens me as I also have daughters, ages 4 and 1 and I know that your story will someday be mine as their mom - trying to convince them that they are beautiful and that no I am not saying b/c I have to.
Keep telling your beautiful daughter that she is just that - beautiful. And I am with SM - she is absolutely gorgeous.

painted maypole said...

Thank you. I worry about this, too. I had a friend in college who COULD NOT look at those magazines because they filled her with such rage and self-loathing. Keep loving her, and loving yourself, and she will find her way.

Lori said...

Oh... I'm heartbroken for her, and for you. What a deceptive world we live in. How can a girl of only 10 already feel so insecure? That makes me so sad, and I know it has NOTHING to do with the home in which she is raised. Clearly she is given only messages of love and affirmation by those who know her best. I guess that is all you can keep doing... Keep saying it, and hope that deep down those will be words she clings to.

My daughter is only two, and she often refers to herself as "cute." If we ask her who is a beautiful girl, she happily says her own name. I wonder what age she will be when she loses her confidence in her beauty and worthiness? I hope never... but I know how hard it is to be a girl. Sigh...

Oh, and your daughter IS beautiful!

Joy, of course! said...

Thank you my friends for your kind words about Allie. I am overwhelmed.

karen said...

Poor Allie! Trying on swimsuits is horrific under any circumstances. For that matter, trying on regular clothes isn't that much better. I will wish for your daughter that she will realize her own beauty - inside and out - much, much sooner than I did.

Kyla said...

Yes, please tell her she is beautiful...we ALL can see it. Really and truly, beautiful.

Do our girls really have to go through this? *sigh* And at 10? That just seems too soon.

Bon said...

here from Slouching Mom...this made me so sad.

i remember when that shame began to creep into my own self-image...i was a little older, maybe twelve, but those were different times, not quite so princess&starlet crazy as society is right now, telling little girls their value is in their beauty, their self-worth always vulnerable to external judgement.

only now, at 35, with a body that has borne two children and skin that's showing its age, am i able to see myself really as beautiful for what is within.

and i too am angry that little girls seem doomed by whatever it is in our culture that you raged at so eloquently to repeat that cycle of self-doubt.

she is beautiful, yes. heartbreakingly beautiful, actually. but she is also clearly loved...which is really the core of all this. she is loved.

if only that were enough.

TINA said...

U TELL ALLIE THAT HER AUNT TINA SAID THAT SHE IS ABSOLUTLY BEAUTIFUL. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HER AND IF ANYONE SAYS THAT THERE IS ITS ONLY BECAUSE THEY THEMSELVES ARE NOT HAPPY WITH WHO THEY ARE AND THEY ARE JEALOUS OF HER. BRITTNEE HAD SOME GIRLS IN SCHOOL PICK ON HER LAST YEAR AND BEING THE OVERSENSITIVE GIRL THAT SHE IS IT REALLY BOTHERED HER. I JUST TOLD HER TO PRAY FOR THOSE GIRLS BECAUSE IF THEY ARE PICKING ON U THEN THEY NEED GODS LOVE IN THIER LIVES. SHE DID PRAY FOR THEM AND THEY EVENTUALLY STOPPED PICKING ON HER. SO IF SHE IS DOWN ABOUT HER WIEGHT THEN TELL HER TO PRAY ABOUT HOW SHE FEELS. IT COULD HELP.
LOVE YALL