by Vanessa Banton who is trying to juggle procrastination with being a single mom to one, and working. She is also trying to complete her masters but that is another story. You can find her on twitter @Zephilla.
My 8-year-old daughter is like a tiny bird. We spend hours searching for a pair of jeans for her, because the size 8-9 just slips down her hips, into a pile on the floor. Unless I wrap her up in a belt. Normally we have to make do with size 7-8 jeans, and just hope the length will hold out for the season. She still has a skirt (size 4-5) that fits perfectly.
So, I was horrified one morning while dressing Lenore for school when she told me she wasn’t wearing her jacket because it made her look fat. I have never told her she is a big girl, or said anything about her weight. Maybe, the one thing I have done is tell her she’s skinny. And while, I am not a big person myself, weight has always played a big role in my life. I was in a boarding school, where many of the girls were either anorexic or bulimic. I understand the damage one’s self esteem can have on the body. I have even lectured a class, looked at the impact media has had on the psyche of teenage girls post apartheid, and how being thin is equated with success. Our children, in this age of satellite television, are certainly more exposed to star role models, like Hannah Montana, than I was growing-up.
I decided to discuss the issue with my psychologist. She asked me if my child was eating normally, which she does and if I had explored the issue further with her. Why did she think the jacket made her look fat?
Lenore and I sat down and spoke about it for a while. Turns out Lenore prefers the silhouetted look, rather than shapeless. She did not like wearing the jacket, because she felt it made her look bulky. So I’ve learnt that instead of reacting to things on the level I know, I should rather engage with my kid, and try to understand where she’s coming from.