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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sticks and Stones

This is me at the beginning of my 17th year, the summer before my senior year in high school:


What do you think when you see this photo? "Nice suit!" "Whoa, perm!" "Looks like someone should wear sunscreen!"

Or, do you blurt out what a guy in my high school said when I showed him the snapshots of my friends and I at the beach: "Wow, I never realized your legs were so fat."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he started backpedaling and tried to make it sound like a joke. I smacked him on the arm and tried to laugh it off.

But, I didn't really laugh.

It's 25 years later and the memory of that moment still makes me wince. It makes me feel shame, as if I did something wrong.

One comment planted a seed that grew and grew, helped along by other moments in college, until I did some drastic things in order to achieve some "ideal" look. I'm fortunate that, years later, I no longer battle the demons of extreme weight control, but that doesn't mean I always love what I see. And as the holidays of excess---Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas---approach, I have to remind myself that I am so much more than the size of my thighs or stomach.

With two girls looking at me for guidance, I want for them to know that their mom is ok with her body now. But, for mercy's sake, please don't let it take them as long as it took me to get to this point.

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Anonymous melissa said...

and here i'm thinking you're so lucky that, even reclined, you have skinny legs!!

9:34 PM  
Anonymous julie said...

Wow, and my first thought was "wow, you've always had nice legs..." What a dumbass that guy was!

8:09 AM  
Blogger The Mom said...

Yeah, I was thinking that you had great legs back then too. I think that guy was a nut case. Its too bad it impacted you so badly.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

Jerk should have understood that in photography, it's called perspective: "As objects become more distant, they begin to appear smaller." How I wish that were the case with your memory of this idiot's comments. (Oh, I'd love to know what kind of spare tire that guy is carrying around today.)

You were blessed with the longest, leanest legs. I wish you hadn't fought such battles with your self image, but I understand.

You may recall my naturally skinny (SKIIIINNY!!) legs -- when my knee was the thickest part of my leg. I remember repeatedly being asked, part-jokingly, "Oh, what skinny legs! You are not anorexic, darling, are you?!" And this came from ADULTS. I became so embarrassed that I didn't wear shorts for a whole year.

Like you, I want my children to think their bodies are nothing short of amazing. I hope they realize what a powerful body they have, no matter the shape or size. And I pray that one person's stupid passing comment will not undo a lifetime of work.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

It's amazing that one BAD remark is worth so much when hundreds of good ones are worth so little.

You were freaking SKINNY. And adorable. And I'm wishing I could slap that high school guy through time and shake him into reality of what a girl is SUPPOSED to look like!


12:41 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I understand those remarks. Oh boy, do I understand them. I have a lifetime of them.

But honestly, when I saw that picture my first thought was "I think I had that same bathing suit but in blue." :)

1:48 PM  
Anonymous shar133 said...

I'd kill for those legs! Chafing and the FL humidity do not do well together......

2:07 PM  
Blogger Suburb Sierra said...

First thought: you used baby oil, too, as sunscreen? High five!

Second thought: you look *just* like my roommate in college in that picture!

Third thought: I remember the day my friend told me my ass drooped down behind my knees and I've never been able to forget happens to all of us.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

You are very far from fat! Kids are mean sometimes. And I think I had that bathing suit!

3:43 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

I noticed the sunburn. I always burn.

It's sad that comments like that stick with us, but sometimes they just do.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Patois said...

Screw the heft -- or, in your case, non-heft -- of your legs, look at that burn, baby, burn.

Dick of a guy.

12:27 AM  

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