Fear and self-loathing


I went to my first formal dance in my sophomore year of high school. My mom took my sister and I dress shopping at department stores while we complained about being fat cows the whole time. I finally settled on a green velvet number with a sheer back and a hemline that was short but wouldn't have me turned away by the nuns guarding the cafeteria-turned-dance-hall. I got my hair and my nails done, and I looked pretty cute, but I tugged at my dress the entire night feeling, still, like a fat cow.

It was a size 3.

I still have that dress hanging in my closet. Not because I think I'll ever be able to wear it again — except maybe as a leg warmer — but because it is such a beautiful dress and I was such a beautiful girl, and when I think about that dress I want to go back in time and give myself a good talking to.

I wish I had felt empowered back when I was able to wear that dress. Of course, as a woman, I think that thought about every size when I am a size or two bigger than it. Hell, if I could get into the single digits, I'd flaunt that shit like it was nobody's business.

Now I have a daughter of my own, and although she's not even 3, it kills me to think that she might one day have the kind of crappy self esteem issues I had when I was 15.

Kills me.

I wish I had felt empowered back when I was able to wear that dress.

There are some days I want to rip all of my clothes out of the closet and lament about my fat ass…. but I know I have a little sponge listening intently to my every word, and I have to suppress it. And you know what? That sort of suppression is good for me because I don't need to do all that negative talking at myself anyway. That's the kind of crap that got me hooked on diet coke and aspartame in the first place.

There are some times, however, when I'll be on a play date or just meeting up with a friend and I have Anna with me and the woman I'm with starts in on negative self talk. What can I do to shield my daughter from this? Some might think that Red is too young to understand what the grown ups are talking about, but yo — I know my daughter. She absorbs everything. So many times I'll think a subject is over her head and she will repeat it back to me later in full detail with a clear cognitive understanding of the matter.

So, ladies… Please, can we just… stop it? Can we stop the self-loathing in front of little girls? Can we stop the "I'm so fat" and "I've gained so much weight" and "I'll never get rid of this cellulite" in the presence of impressionable young years? Yes… I, too, long for the days when the Rubenesque woman was in style, but I don't need to make my daughter aware of what I feel are my physical shortcomings. Because you know what? Every time she hears "I'm so fat," she will associate that with what "beautiful" is supposed to be, and dammit, she will never stop being beautiful to me. Never.

Never ever ever.

Jeanne McCullough is a Montgomery County, PA mom. This post was adapted from her blog Mom Hearts Pinot.


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