My sons are different shapes. E is long and lanky, C is tall and thick. Both are wonderfully, gratefully amazingly healthy. Can never not be appreciative of that fact. Never. They wear the same size pants, but various cuts fit differently. The other morning we were all getting ready for school. C grabbed a pair of shorts, slid them on and found that they didn’t buckle. He looked embarrassed, “Sorry I’m too big for them. My butt is too big for them.” That didn’t sound right to me. The look on his face bothered me. Then it hit me, “Uh… you don’t need to feel bad because those shorts aren’t right for you. The shorts don’t fit you, you don’t need to apologize to the shorts. Your body is right; the shorts are wrong.” And then I grabbed a different pair, same size, different cut and they fit just fine.
That scenario stayed with me. What if I had been told that when I was 10? It’s not you that is flawed, but the item, object, situation your trying to fit into? What would that have felt like as a teenager or young adult? It’s taken me years to believe that it’s not me that’s wrong, it’s the shorts.
I like to talk my way into and out of things. It’s a gift. Silver tongue, mercurial insight. Can I talk my kids out of feeling bad about not fitting into every pair of shorts that has their size written in the waistband? Am I witty enough to talk them into seeing themselves as whole? Not body parts labeled as good or bad? We’ll see.
There’s the expression “what once was seen cannot be unseen,” right? Well, now I’ve seen the beginnings of negative body image. I hope I don’t forget it. I hope I’ll stay aware of it and be sensitive when he needs me to be.