A friend we have known for a long time (I actually wrote 'old' but then realised in light of the following maybe it wasn't quite right), works as a producer for Richard Glover on 702 ABC Radio, she wrote this fantastic post on the ABC Blog and then they chatted about it on air. I thought it was brilliant, hilarious and beautiful and couldn't resist sharing here.
Am I the only one having difficulty reconciling my inner thoughts with the things I know I’m supposed to say to my children, for the sake of their developing self esteem?
We’re told over and over that children’s attitudes around body image and nutrition are shaped by ours.
The message is that if we want our children to grow up happy and body-confident, we need to model this behaviour. You can’t BE what you can’t SEE, the experts tell us.
So, the stakes are pretty high… and the pressure to get this right is turning me into quite a brilliant actor.
Mum, why are your legs so big? (Charlotte, 9)
She’s right. They really are chunky. I have to stop those 9pm licorice binges… All those years of ballet made me too muscly.
‘Aren’t they FANTASTIC! That’s because I do all that wonderful exercise! And notice how shapely they are? That’s because mummy did ballet when she was younger. Here, feel how strong the muscles are. I’m so lucky to have strong legs. Some people don’t even have legs!’
Mum, what are those lines on your face? (Phoebe, 4)
I’m really going to have to stop raising my eyebrows so often.. I wonder if there’s a different way to look surprised.. It might be time to try that expensive cream.
‘Oh, you mean my expression lines, darling?! I think they’re one of the best things about my face! The smartest, wisest women are the ones with the most lines.. See these ones around my eyes? They’re extra special. They show how many times I’ve laughed. I lovethem! I wonder how many laughter lines you’ll get..’
Mum, are you on a diet? (Charlotte, 9)
Sh*t. She’s noticed!
‘Of course not. We don’t do DIETS. I’m just trying to eat healthily to make sure my body gets all the nutrition it needs. It’s good to make sure that our bodies get the right kind of energy so we can do all the things we love to do..’
And it’s my twenty year school reunion Saturday week…
And ‘the trousers of truth’ don’t fit.. Actually, none of the trousers fit...
And all the coolest clothes at the op shop are too small, because people used to be smaller.. or maybe just the cool people were smaller. Whatever. Nothing fits!
And I’m just two kilos outside my healthy weight range..
And we’re going on a beach holiday at the end of the year and there will be lots of photos… and this might be my last chance to ever look good in a swimming costume again!
‘Besides, diets are silly and diets are dangerous, darling. I’d never go on a diet. I’m on ahealthy eating plan’
Maybe I’ll try those meal replacement shakes.. they’re meant to work really fast.
Mum, why do you wear make up? (Phoebe, 4)
Because without it, I look exhausted. Why does it take me twice as long to look half as good?
Apparently Cate Blanchett uses illuminator.. Maybe I should try that.
‘Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, sweetheart… I just love mucking around with the different colours. It’s a bit like when you play dress ups.. And see my beautiful eyes? If I draw around them with this pencil, they really stand out.. Some people use this thing called mascara, but you and I already have beautiful long eyelashes so we don’t need it’
I’ll put the mascara on in the car..
Mum, why do you dye your hair? (Charlotte, 9)
Lisa Wilkinson doesn’t dye hers and she’s fifty. This means it’s possible to be a natural brunette until then… So I can stay brunette until I’m fifty.. and then I’ll just slowly start going lighter and lighter until I’m a blonde.. that way the regrowth will be harder to spot. I wonder if I’ll have more fun as a blonde.
‘Oh, I just love the colour of your hair, Charlotte, so I’m trying to make mine the same colour’
Mum… Why are your boobs lying down? (Ben, 7)
My poor, pathetic, deflated breasts. I'm standing up, but you really are lying down, aren’t you? You used to be so perky. Why didn’t I let you out more in my twenties? I’m sorry there aren’t any pictures of us from back then. We should have done a photo shoottogether. You were so great. Remember when we used to pass the pencil test? Now we can’t even pass the pencil case test. Maybe if I just spend the rest of my life walking around with my hands on my head….
‘Take a good look darling. This is exactly what a 38-year-old woman’s breasts should look like. They’re fantastic. They’re perfect! They fed each of you for fifteen months. That’s 45 months. How many years in 45 months? That’s right. Nearly four. Aren’t you getting good at maths! After all that hard work feeding you guys, it’s no wonder they’re lying down. They need a rest!’
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The funny thing is, the more I tell my children this stuff, the more I start to believe it. I guess it’s like gradual, accidental, cognitive behavioural therapy.
And lately I’ve been noticing a change in the internal dialogue.
Actually, these legs are rather toned.
My face is changing.. and I sort of like it.
These breasts really did feed those three children. How incredible.
Maybe they don’t look so bad after all.