A Letter to My Daughter

Hi daughter. I see you there, shoveling those crumb top donuts in your mouth when you think I’m not looking. Oh yes, I’ve got eyes in the back of my head, didn’t you know? Oh no, I’m not saying anything because…well, I’m afraid to say something. I know you’re going through a growth spurt right now and that’s why your pants don’t fit anymore and you’re hungry all the time. In my head I’m sure this is a normal thing, a normal almost ten year old girl phenomenon. But my heart is screaming at me to slap that donut out of your hand. Because if you keep eating junk food and stuffing your face, your pants won’t ever fit. And THEN, it’ll be my fault as a mother for not steering you to the celery spears and carrot sticks and tell you to stop eating donuts.

Sounds complicated, right? Conflicting? I don’t want to say the wrong thing and screw this all up. Hence why I’m pretending I don’t see you taking those donuts and I’m going to hide them or throw them out the second you turn YOUR back and replace them with the aforementioned good foods. Because I’m afraid. I don’t want you to end up like me. No, not fat. I know in my head that I’m not truly “fat”. But when I look in the mirror, that’s not what my heart sees (or rather, what my eyes see). When I look in the mirror, I see a nine year old girl who was the butt of fat jokes even though she was just chubby. I see a preteen girl who ran home and cried on more than one occasion when we all got weighed in gym class and the teacher would whisper her weight to be recorded. I see a teen who stared longingly at the teen girl magazines wondering what she would have to do to look like the girls on the cover. I see a college student who starved herself, worked out too much, and went on one too many fad diets. I see a woman in her twenties who feels guilty after enjoying an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles and beats herself up for indulging.  I see a mom who sucks in her gut all the time, who stares at the numbers on the scale and constantly tells herself, ‘just five more pounds and I’ll be perfect’. And then I see that same mom who loses those five pounds and promptly puts them back on because she just likes to eat and enjoy food, no matter how much guilt it causes her. I see a wife whose husband tells her he loves her just the way she is and she just can’t hear him. I see an imperfect woman who despite working out four or five days a week, jiggles in places she never jiggled before. I see a person who hides this constant battle because she doesn’t want to seem weak or superficial. I see a roller coaster that this girl just can’t seem to get off of, no matter how hard she tries.

My daughter, I don’t want you to have that problem, that self loathing complex. I want you to love yourself whether you end up a size 2 or size 12. I want you to take care of your body and be healthy and say screw you to anyone who puts you down. I want you to eat because you’re hungry, or there’s good food. I don’t want you to eat because you’re lonely, you’re bored, or you’re heart broken. But even if you do, I don’t want you to hate yourself for it. I’ve been a size 2. It hurts pushing away all the food I enjoy. And I’ve been a size 12, too. And that hurts not fitting into my clothes and hating the way I feel. You know what doesn’t hurt, though? Loving my body and accepting it. Loving myself and realizing self worth isn’t a pants size. Happiness is not a weight.

So daughter, I want you to enjoy that donut. (ONE DONUT, not the six I know you’ve eaten). And I want you to eat those celery and carrot sticks, too. You’re going to have to learn to take care of yourself and balance it out. It’s a fine line you and I will always have to walk. But I have faith that you will be okay. Because today, I’m going to start setting a good example for you, my daughter. Today is the day I change. I’m not looking in the mirror and seeing that person I used to see anymore. I refuse to. And I won’t call her fat and I won’t beat her up for her imperfections. I will see the person I want YOU to see when YOU look in the mirror…someone beautiful, inside and out, despite her weight or her crooked boobs or her one nostril that’s bigger than the other. Someone who enjoys her life and it shows. Someone who loves her daughter more than she was ever able to love herself.

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