Operation Skinny Jeans: An open letter

Friday, October 11, 2013

An open letter

Last night I went to a high school choir concert to see a friend's daughter was perform. She is 15. After the concert, one of her friends and her mom came up to us and her mom made a comment about her daughter's weight. Her 15 year old daughter weighs MAYBE 135 lbs. She has a small "pooch" on her stomach, which was the topic of discussion. This is a letter to her mother. 

Dear Lanie's* mom,

It took every ounce of strength in me last night to keep my mouth shut after the comment you made to your daughter. When you said, in front of her friends and STRANGERS that she "has gotten fat since she stopped dancing" and that you are going to "make her do sit-ups" I literally cringed. I immediately turned to her and said "you are BEAUTIFUL" in hopes of planting a seed of doubt in her mind that what you were saying was true. Truth is, your daughter IS beautiful. She is 15 and growing and does not need YOU criticizing her body.

Do you not remember what it is like to be 15? Or were things really that different when you were a kid? High School is a BATTLEFIELD! Girls are vicious and I am sure you are not the first person she has heard about her "pooch" from. I am sure she is already self conscious about it. But you calling her out in front of people she doesn't know makes her even more aware of it. You made your daughter hate a part of her body. She will now look in the mirror and instead of feeling beautiful, she will feel angry and unworthy. YOU did that with your words.

As a mother, your daughter looks UP to you. Whether you realize it or not, EVERYTHING you say to her goes straight to her heart. She is constantly seeking your approval. By publicly SHAMING her for her body, you are teaching her that she is worthy of shame, that she is ugly and she should not be respected. And instead of criticizing her body, and saying that she "stopped exercising, but still eats a lot", maybe you could teach her about portion control, or nutrition. YOU ARE HER MOTHER. YOU CONTROL WHAT SHE EATS. Instead of taking her out to fast food every night, you could teach her about nutrition! You think that your comments are helping her when really they are slowly tearing apart her self esteem. Instead you could actually help her by teaching her the importance of a balanced diet and exercise outside of dance.

I am sure being a mother is hard. You want the best for your daughter but you don't know how to constructively bring up that you think she is gaining weight. I understand that it is a hard conversation to have. I do know, however, that you don't have to do it in public. I can't understand how the conversation right after her choir concert has nothing to do with how beautiful she sounded, or how proud of her you are for putting herself out there, but is about how fat she is getting. And when she said "I don't think anyone noticed my pooch" you should have said "OF COURSE NOT, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL" instead of "They did. You should have sucked it in." NO ONE NOTICED IT! YOU are the only person that has a problem with it!

::breathe::

Obviously you struck a nerve with me, Lanie's mom. Growing up with a mom much like yourself, I know first hand what it feels like to be told that you are fat. I was told my entire teenage-hood that I was fat, and because of that, not worthy. Not worthy of friends, or love or happiness. I grew up HATING my body. And because I hated my body, I didn't respect it. I didn't believe I was worthy of love, but I still craved attention from guys. So I used the body I didn't respect to get the attention I wanted. When I met my now husband, I was told that I could meet someone better if I just could lose a little weight. That I would be happier if I would just lose some weight. I have news for you, Lanie's mom. The things you say to your daughter DO matter. She will remember those comments for the rest of her life and she will look at herself differently because of it. So I hope you are happy.

Jess

Dear EVERY MOTHER OF A DAUGHTER,

OMG PLEASE HUG YOUR DAUGHTER. Lets start there. Hug her. Hard. And tell her she is beautiful. Teach her about her body and teach her to LOVE it, all of it, even the imperfect parts. Because they are perfect because they are hers. Teach her to respect her body, and that it is stronger than she ever imagined. Teach her about nutrition! Teach her how to eat healthfully and teach her to use moderation for the fun stuff. And please, PLEASE, always remember that the things you say to your daughter are IMPORTANT. EVERYTHING you say will stick with her. Please NEVER shame her for her body. Don't. If you think she is gaining weight and you want to make a change, look at what you are feeding her, and encourage her to be active. Not by saying "I am going to make you do sit-ups" but by showing her how fun being active can be, either by dancing, or playing sports, or by just chasing her around the house in a game of tag! You are her mother. Don't take that role lightly.

Jess

*name changed obviously



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11 comments :

  1. Ugh! My mom would criticize me for everything and I mean everything. She would say things along the lines of "I think you did great, but you couldn't done this and this and this so much better." or my personal favorite, criticizing how I worked out to exercise videos! This coming from a woman who ate nothing but crap and therefore allowed me to eat nothing but crap. It's no wonder I have weight issues. I do have a daughter and I am making sure both she and her brother have proper nutrition from the very beginning. It's my hope that neither of them will ever have to endure what I did growing up as the fat kid.

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  2. Oh that makes me so sad!!! My biggest fear is that my daughter (who is FIVE) will have body image issues. I would NEVER talk about her weight in public. That is just sad. You are a better person than me, because I probably would have said something to the mom.

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  3. I adore this letter Jess and I wish every mother of a daughter would read it. I have a mum who has always told me I was beautiful, yet when I was gaining weight she was careful about how she worded what she had to say to me and she offered help with food and wanted to know what made me gain the weight. She was so worried that mentioning what was going on would make it worse.

    There's a girl in my office who's tiny and her mum tells her everyday how fat she is which means she is now doing all sorts of stupid diets and quick fixes to try and lose weight she doesn't really have to lose. It makes me sad that she has these issues due to something her mother has spoken over her for the last ten years.

    x

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  4. I wish my mom would have cared about my body enough to say something to me. instead she called me a whore and beat me. my mother never went to a choir performance. want to judge her too? Mind your own business.

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    1. 1st, I am sorry you went through that, but I want to thank you for proving my point. My point was that mothers need to watch what they say to their daughters because it effects them more than they know. Clearly what your mom put you through affected you.
      2nd, I don't judge anyone. My letter wasn't about judging this woman, just informing her that her words have an impact.

      And nope, I won't mind my own business. If I won't stick up for these girls, who will?

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  5. Sounds like Lanie's Mom is Ms. Anonymous... What a joke. Good for you to tell her she was beautiful, and for biting your tongue at that moment!

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  6. How chicken shit to sign in as anonymous and leave the ONLY ridiculous comment on here... Kudos to you, for reminding this girl she was beautiful. Hopefully someday she will know it to be true, and know that skin and bones isn't attractive.

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  7. WOW point well taken! I think you nailed this one on the nail!

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  8. I hope that the mother happens to read your blog and if not maybe you could mail it to her unsigned with no return address. How could a mother say something like to her daughter.

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  9. Oh this absolutely brought me to tears! You are such an amazing person!!!!

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  10. That was very well written!!! As a mom of two little girls, I would never say something like that to them!

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