1.17.2009

Skin

The other day, Brookelyn and I were in her room picking out an outfit for church. She has gotten so tall lately that none of her dressy clothes were long enough, so we had gone to Old Navy to browse around for fancy clothes. We found some dresses that were long enough, but the were size 10 and 12 girls. They were also only $4.97 each, so I figured paired with a sweater, they'd look boho chic and would work fine.

On this particular Sunday morning, Brookelyn was having a hard time deciding what to wear. She had a new sweater that she really wanted to wear, and one of the dresses, dark blue with colorful butterflies, would match awesome.

I pulled it from the hanger and gave it to her to put on. She started to pull it over her head, then paused and looked at the tag.

"Um, this is a size 12..." she said, almost embarrassed.

I tried to downplay it to see what else she would say. I asked what that was supposed to mean. She wears size 5/6 girls, which is right on for her age.

"I want to wear something else." was all she said. She had a kind of shame in her eyes that I recognize in my own so often when I'm out shopping and the sales clerk asks if she can help me with a size.

The truth is, I've never been comfortable in my skin, and I never tell people my size, ever. I always told myself that if I ever had a daughter, I was going to make sure she was comfortable in her body. I was always going to make sure that I censored my insecurities as not to pass them down to her. I was very thankful when she came out with tiny little bones like her dad. I was hoping she'd be one of those girls that was naturally thin. (which as of now, seems to be the case) Not that I'd think less of her if she was curvy, like me, but our society makes it very hard to be curvy and confident.

I come from a family of 4 girls. All my sisters are gorgeous. They all have size 7-8 shoes. They all have tiny little hands. They are all 3-5 inches shorter than me.

I have always been the Amazon sister in my mind. My hands and feet are almost the same size as my husbands, and growing up I always got comments on my shoe size. I think I was a size 10 in womens by middle school. When I'm at my thinnest, I'm still a size 9.

I suppose I can be grateful that I have a strong body and a healthy body. I have a body that can carry babies to full term and thrust them out into the world with little difficulty.

Our society doesn't recognize women for their brute strength, they recognize them for their jutting hip bones and sunken cheeks.

I could go on for days about the injustice to curvy women in our society, because to look at other women with curves, I think they are more beautiful than the teeny tiny waisted women I see in magazines. For myself though, I'm always trying to attain the skeletal figure that is supposed to be sexy and acceptable. One that I'm never going to attain, and on that always makes me feel inadequate and standing with my hand across my belly.

Until now. Until I realized the very thing that I carried around as baggage my entire life is starting to invade my 5 year old daughter. Until she recognized the size of her dress and felt ashamed and embarrassed and refused to wear it. Until she told me "it's a size 12 Mom, I don't wear a size 12."

8 comments:

Werth family said...

Hey
If you are looking to get rid of some of Brooklyn's clothes. I would be interested in possible purchasing some from you. I always am looking for dressy clothes for Caitlyn. She goes to meeting and conventions with Mom and Dad so much that I don't have much. She will be moving into size 5/6 anytime. If you are interested please let me know. amywill31@yahoo.com
Thanks
Amy

Heather said...

Oh, poor Brookelyn...that breaks my heart that she would even care...or notice. She is NOT a big girl...and even if she was, it wouldn't matter...she's beautiful!! And so are you, Amber...your sisters are, but so are you...and if you want the honest truth, I'd rather be curvy and pretty than skinny and not-so-pretty...trust me, I have my own insecurities with that and always have....sigh....somedays it would be easier to be male I think!!;0)

Maggie May said...

this is such a brutally great post. when i read this
"Our society doesn't recognize women for their brute strength, they recognize them for their jutting hip bones and sunken cheeks."
i thought, that is a genius observation.

papendorfs said...

Amber,
That was an amazing post. It was (is) my exact experience. You said it so beautifully.

I think it's very insightful that you would see it in Brooklyn's eyes. Did you explain to her that you thought it would look chic with the sweater?

The truth of the matter is that we can have people we love tell us we are beautiful but until we believe it ourselves, it's just words.

Charla

sleepoutside said...

Well spoken Amber! I was always obsessed with losing weight, then got a digestive problem that made me skinny, weak and uncomfortable. Healthy, curvy bodies are beautiful and way more fun! It's the way we were designed to be!

Ben, Heather & kids said...

A sad, but very true fact of our society. I'm not looking forward to my girls entering into that. The images we see in magazines are rarely true, and never realistic. The average woman wears a size 14, not a 0!
I believe inner beauty is much more important than outer beauty.
I also agree, you need to BELIELVE you're beautiful,...hearing it from others doesn't do the trick.
You beat me to it, I'm working on a post about this too.
P.S. I think you are a beautiful person, inside & out.

Capricorn said...

my girls havent noticed the whole 'size' thing yet..maybe cutting out the size off the clothes would work? I mean, size is just a number right?

Shelley said...

What is interesting with sizing for girls / women is, it varies from item to item. We have to try things on all of the time. With women so often buying for men it is great that their sizes actually mean something. Neck size, waist size, inseam,... But for women it is some obscure number. For a time I wore two miss-sized items as an outfit. The shirt was an extra small petite and the jumper was a 22. I don't wear either size by a long shot. It was rather amusing.
Glad for those who I've been with who have been sickly and scrawny... who have taught me it is not always fun to be thin.

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