Friday, September 28, 2012

My Dear John Letter...

Oh, sweet boy.
You have no idea.
Somehow, the crazy messages we put out there have reached you.  At not-quite-four, they've gotten to you. 

I did my best to shield you from it.  Truly, I did.  Every carefully chosen show, every iPad app, every time I stood in my closet trying to find an outfit that didn't make me break my rule of never letting you hear me say disparaging things about my body.  None of it mattered, did it?  Because they've gotten to you.

Mommy tried, love.  And I am so sorry I've failed you.

You are too young to say the words "I'm exercising to lose weight."  What you don't understand about those words is the power that they have.  The power we as a society have mistakenly given them.  Somehow, I doubt you understood what you were saying, but hearing my precious, beautiful boy implying that something is wrong with the body God gave him - even just thoughtlessly, and in passing - no.  No, John.

Here are the things you need to know:

We are all given bodies.  They are perfectly and wonderfully made.  They are all different, but not one of them is less beautiful than another.  It's our responsibility to take care of our bodies, to keep them healthy and strong.  This is why we talk about healthy food choices and moving our bodies and treating them kindly.  We put good things into our bodies so that our bodies will be there for us when we need and want them.  Sometimes people don't do that, but in truth, that isn't any of our business.  It isn't our place to tear them down or belittle them, because doing that can hurt them for a very, very long time.  As you grow up, you'll have opportunities to be an example of someone who makes healthy choices, and I hope you'll always choose to do that.  Daddy and I try to be that kind of example to you. 

Your body is preschooler perfection.  It runs, it swims, it climbs.  You may not be the tallest kid you know, but your height is just perfect for you.  You love to tell me how you weigh 32 pounds now, and how someday you'll weigh ONE HUNDRED pounds.  When you get there, your body will still be running and swimming and who knows what else...and it will still be perfection.  I look at you, and I see the ease and comfort you seem to feel in your own skin when you are swinging so high, shouting "Mommy, I'm touching the sky with my feet", and my heart swells with pride.  At least until I remember that there are messages are out there that will tell you you are less than, not enough, and God forbid, FAT.  And then my heart shatters.

Fat is something that's part of food.  Our bodies need it.  It's part of our healthy diet, in the almond butter and salmon (and yes, cookies) that we eat.  It isn't a feeling, nor is it a character flaw.  It's not a word to throw around lightly, either.  Somehow, we've gotten so turned around in this world that we've made the way we look far more important than who we are inside.  The word "fat" has become an insult, a judgement, an ugliness.  Losing weight has become some ridiculous holy grail.  It makes me sad.

Someday you'll know about my struggle with anorexia and the way it's shaped how I view a lot of things, for better or worse.  Now's not the time for that, though.  For today, I want you to remember this, if nothing else:

To me, you are beautiful.  You will always be beautiful, inside and out.  You are everything I dreamed of in a little boy, and so incredibly much more.  There is nothing to change, because if you were to change, you wouldn't be my Snoog, and I don't think I could bear that.  Please, John, love yourself, starting now.  Find joy in who you are, and anchor yourself there.  Be brave enough to tell society to shove it when the messages that you need to bemoredomorehavemore come flooding in. 

You are a miracle, just as you are.  No weight loss required. 

Mommy loves you, forever.

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