I was at the park today with my two young kids and husband. A group of junior high-aged girls walked by giggling to each other. They were awkward – all of them, in the way that junior high girls are supposed to be. I know that is unlike many of their peers today who have, with the help of Instagram idols and 30 minute YouTube makeup tutorials that teach them how to blend and contour any imperfections, somehow gotten around the awkward phase that we are all supposed to grow through. One girl, who was tall, thin and the kind of pretty you know will shine after tween awkwardness has passed said with a giggle “I’m going to start a diet tomorrow because when I am in my swimsuit I seriously look like I’m about to pop a baby out.”
My heart sank for her, and for the three sets of ears belonging to her friends who just likely just internalised that comment and will think back on it later when they see their own perfectly imperfect reflections in a swimsuit. I looked over at my sweet not yet two year old swinging from the bar above the slide, and I used my motherly brainwaves to will her to never have thoughts like that. I know that is unlikely. I know we all of have them at some point or another, but I truly can’t stand the thought of her seeing herself in a mirror and thinking the image staring back at her is anything less than strong, healthy and beautiful.
When my husband heard the comment, he said of the 12 year old girl, “She had to hear that somewhere right?”
“Yeah. Like everywhere,” I responded and rattled off the list. “Pinterest diet or swimwear posts, magazines in the Target checkout, TV, Instagram, a sister, a friend, her mom.”
I guess I will need to do more than send magic brain signals to my kids. I need to walk the walk and talk the talk. Operation Don’t Badmouth My Body starts today.