1.17.2009

Sigh.

I'm a very lucky girl with really awesome parents. Growing up, they always let us know they were proud of us and my dad would always peer back at the 4 of us in the rear view mirror and say to mom "Aren't our girls pretty?" Of course he was trying to make us blush, and more often than not we'd roll our eyes and say "whatever dad, we are not..." but secretly, I loved that my dad though we were beautiful.

This afternoon, I was in the local thrift store shopping for work jeans with my husband. There was this man talking really loud, and when I started to pay attention to what it was that he was so heated about, I really couldn't believe it. He was a scruffy, gray bearded man in dirty clothes with big square framed glasses and a dingy jacket. I can't say for sure, but I would venture a guess that he was not with his 2 daughters mom, and had them only on his required weekends. One of his girls was in the dressing room trying on shirts while the other waited patiently outside the door all the while asking why she couldn't try anything on. Her dad said she didn't need shirts, she had plenty, and her sister was growing out of hers, so they had to get her something that fit. The girl in the dressing rooms name was Brianna, but he said it like "BreeANNa." He started off yelling at her because they "made a deal" that if he agreed to buy her some shirts, then she had to come out and show him what they looked like on. He sounded like a whiny 3 year old...BriANNa, you promised you'd show me, we had a deal BreeANNa. When she refused to come out, he said fine, give me the shirts back and you'll get nothing! Finally, after about 5 minutes of carrying on, she came out. He looked at the shirt she had on and asked if she liked it. She said yes she did, and could she get it. He told her absolutely not, it's way to tight, looks like yer squeezing yourself in one of Kiara's shirts now hang it up and try somethin else on. I was hiding around the corner so I could hear what was going on, but he wouldn't see me watching him verbally abuse his daughter. She hung up the shirt, and slid it out underneath the door for him to take. "What the hells the matter with you BreeANNa, you don't throw things on the floor. NEXT TIME, you hand it to me over the top of the door, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? Now get something else on and hurry up, you're taking way to long." She put the next shirt on and opened the door. He said "well that looks nice, you like it...?" She said sure, it was fine. "nah, I don't think so, looks a little tight." The next one he again asked if she liked it, as he said it fit really good. She excitedly said yes, she really liked it, and could she get it. "No, the sleeves are kinda weird, I don't think I like that one." I was furious with his ignorance, and commented to my mom that I wouldn't blame the girl if she stabbed her dad while he was asleep. She continued to try things on, all the while being told to hurry as he cussed at her and time after time told her they were too tight. He said, "Jeez Bree, these are size 16 (girls)we're trying on, and they're too small, this is ridiculous..." and on and on and on it went. Poor girl (s). I can't believe, knowing the love I have for my kids, that a man can stand in a store and publicly humiliate his daughter for everyone to hear over and over again. It makes me angry and sad and embarrassed for the poor little girl. He ended up not buying her anything, and I didn't ever get to see her, but my mom did and said she reminded her of Olive, from Little Miss Sunshine. She was a little pudgy, as girls on the cusp of puberty are, but definitely not fat. I don't think that she could do anything right regardless of how hard she tried. She was a great sport, usually saying quietly, "okay dad..." and remarking only once that he says that about every one, after he said yet another shirt was too tight. She'll be one of those girls that never goes home to visit her dad because of all the hurt he caused her when she was forced to endure his biting criticism and insults. He'll be the guy that dies alone.

Have you ever not spoken up, and then really really regretted it? That's where I'm at.

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."
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