Babies, little girls, older girls and Body Image

I went for a baby shower recently. Walking into the house, there were all these familiar faces, people I see at best once a year(maybe every two years is more accurate). Each time, though a long time will have gone by, their faces are always in the recesses of my mind. Faces never really leave me. Names on the other hand…well, I’ll need to perhaps start making short notes to remember the accompanying names. You know how it is with family of family of family…family nonetheless. I spent most of my time there listening to the conversation, picking up names, matching them to faces, amusing myself in my head.

My little niece, once or twice removed, I can’t keep track, as I headed out, started making conversation. With the pleasant innocence of a little child, we started off at, “Where are you going?”

I have to go home,” I replied.

Why?”

I don’t want my mum to wonder where I am and worry.”

Then…things escalated very quickly from there!

Do you have a baby in your stomach?”

Children are the absolute best!

No, I don’t.”

Why?”

Why indeed.

Besides my cousin whose baby shower it was, I’m told it is a sprinkle for the second child, so, besides my cousin whose baby sprinkle it was, two other cousins of hers were expectant. Considering we were about 15 to 20 ladies at the sprinkle, this makes 15%. That is a sizable amount, no? My little niece obviously seemed to think so. I bet she felt warped in this reality where suddenly her aunties had larger than life tummies, just, positively out there tummies! In her shoes, I would have been very alarmed, confused, curious! I bet every time she brought up the topic, someone would come down to her level, physically and communication-wise, and state that obvious that it might be difficult for a child to grasp… “Honey, my tummy is big because there’s a baby in there.”

This response would undoubtedly be followed by a “Why?”

What is it with children and ‘Whys’?

On that note, is there a situation in which ‘Why?’ would not be a valid question? Kids cannot possibly have stumbled upon that all by themselves! Who have the children been talking to? That’s what I’d like to know. Clearly, there’s someone out there setting us all up! Telling children to walk around asking “Why?” every chance they get. I’m onto you…whoever you are!

I understand where the little girl was coming from. She kept seeing so many of her aunties with suspiciously large tummies and their excuse(legit reason) was ‘baby on board’.

At first I panicked though!

I bet everyone has that one physical feature that they are unbelievably self-conscious about. Everyone might just be me, but I suspect it is not. For me, it is my tummy. Well, if it is not first on my list, it still ranks very high. At worst, it comes in a solid second.

In that initial moment when she asked me if I have a baby in my tummy, my mind jumped to that irrational(is it really?) conclusion that this little girl thought my tummy big enough to possibly be housing a child and I panicked, wondering if the rest of the world also saw what a fraud my tummy was. I regretted all the cake I had let myself eat in the week that had gone by, I thought about the two rounds of cake I had just eaten at the sprinkle, the juice I had opted for instead of water, the workout I had skipped just that morning, it all came crashing back to me.

Why are we our own worst enemy? Are we socialised this way?

There is a certain standard that women are held up against. A very unrealistic standard of perfection. Unattainable.

The yardstick of female perfection that you spot in a movie or show on tv or in a magazine is more often than not edited, doctored, engineered. Yet this I what we are meant to aspire to be. This phony version of women that is used as a tool, to sell cars, clothes, perfume, you name it!

We fall short. Of course we do. Short of plastic surgery, of course we fall short. As a result, we hate ourselves for falling short. We critic and insult ourselves and then we do it to each other. We starve ourselves, cut and mask ourselves, all in the pursuit of shadows.

In my opinion, Pink said it best, “Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead!”

Nayyirah Waheed also puts it well…

you

see your face

you

see a flaw

how. If you are the only one that has this face.

-the beauty construct

<?php
if($girl == "happy" && $girl == "healthy"){

$girl == “BEAUTIFUL!”;

}
?>
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10 Comments

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    • 5
      kathleen

      Yessss…what Sophs said! I’ve really been searching for her books as well.

      Short of Amazon…I really don’t know where to get them.
      🙁
      Attempting to pirate has not gotten me anywhere…I reckon I will just buy them one of these fine days.

  1. 6
    Sarah

    So true! I wonder though…if worrying about how we look turns out to be the reason why one avoids fattening (unhealthy) foods and exercise more, is it acceptable? Personally, I’d be quite happy if I had such a strong motivator hahaha,within reason of course. If you hate any heavier or skinnier, lighter or darker version of yourself then I think there may be a problem; because it means you consider looks to be at the same level as your character, which in my opinion, should never be the case.

    • 7
      kathleen

      I recently read a story about a health conscious mum who works out and watches what she eats…the likes.
      She has a little girl who one day asked her out of the blues whether she wants to be skinny…and her mum said she wants to be strong.
      Then the little girl said she’d like to be strong too!
      🙂

      Wanting to better ourselves is epic, but the motivation behind it is even more important, me thinks. If you want to be better, stronger, healthier…positive vibes like those tend to come from a positive place. A place of self-acceptance first! And then motivation to get to your goal…even if it is a weight goal.

      More superficial reasons, like to be skinnier, tend to come from a place of self-deprecation. A place where we don’t feel like we are enough, where we constantly compare ourselves to others, and hope to measure up but getting to some goal we set.

      ha ha.
      Idk why I thought all this would make sense in reply to your comment…just read your comment again and this seems off…but well…self-acceptance first.
      😉

  2. 8
    Stace

    We all know that panic all too well. It’s just like when that aunt of a cousin of a cousin, who swears they changed your diaper, states “umekua Mkubwa” or “heh umechange” and instantly you are thinking, ‘do I look that fat? Is my face ageing already? Maybe I should oil my hair more often. I def should have put on some lipstick!’
    Self image distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty…all we can do is do better for the little girls growing up now.

    • 9
      kathleen

      Or when someone tells you…eh, I see you have been eating well.

      Do they think they are being discrete?
      Cause I always think the worst!
      Heh heh!

      As for doing better for our little girls…TRUEEEE!!!

      Please read my reply to Sarah’s comment, also on this post. It has a story about a mum and a little girl that’s relevant.
      🙂

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