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2/17/11

Mothers and Body Image Or Why I Cut The Tags Out Of My Clothes

One recent Saturday after our walk, four of us sat in Panera Bread talking. At some point the talk turned to mothers.
One woman's mother used to prequel the weekly phone conversation with - have you lost weight yet? Another asks her daughter when she's going to change her hairstyle and why isn't she wearing make-up? (a Skype call with Mom qualifies as a date now?)

I had a friend in California - a competitive runner who was 5' 9", had zero body fat, wore a size three. And thought she was fat - because her mother told her so.

My mother used to ask what size I was - all the time - even after she stopped making my clothes and had no damn business knowing. She once asked me if I wanted to see pictures of myself before I started eating too much  Granted she was by then in the depths of dementia. (I'm pretty sure she thought it before, but filters were in place to prevent the asking of the burning question.)

Part of it is the crazy fashion industry and the media that tells us a size ten is a PLUS size. Seriously, I would happy to be a plus size ten.



Hand in hand with the body image issues (thanks Mom!) is the nonacceptance of compliments.
We can't accept a compliment on a pair of shoes or a jacket without invoking the magic incantation - "This old thing?! Oh I've had it for years, honestly, I think I paid $2 for it." And then proceed to point out the tiniest hole, worn down heel, thread pull or some other minuscule, and quite possibly imagined, flaw.

Before the Chocolate Affair on Sunday - ten attractive and well groomed women stood around in the Fresh Market parking lot and bemoaned how many times each of us had changed outfits before we came. Land of Cotton wrote about the Goldilocks aspect of the day.
We women are always doing math in our heads - the slide ruler of comparison - weighing ourselves against one another and usually finding ourselves lacking.

So what is it about women that we can't see ourselves the way others do (I mean in the good ways). Is there some DNA code buried deep in the X chromosome that disallows goodness or self acceptance - of myself or my daughter's self?
I'm willing to bet few of us have these conversations with sons.
Frankly, I'm glad I didn't have a daughter or she'd probably be cutting the tags out of her clothes.

2 comments:

  1. Can't complain about my mother in this regard. She made sure I was a svelte child then called it a day. It would be nice if we could see beauty in ourselves as effortlessly as we do when appreciating it in our friends. Love the pix!
    Anon CP

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  2. Mommy as micro-manager. It goes on and on and on. Something to do with that umbilical cord. At least you can make it funny, which I appreciate.

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