A bit of a departure from my usual focus, but something that was very much on my mind and in my heart.
Tomorrow you’ll turn two years old and the past few days I’ve found myself feeling nostalgic, remembering all of the little moments and delights you’ve brought to my life. I’ve been blessed with a front-row seat to your discoveries many of them based on physical milestones–walking, running, climbing, holding objects of different sizes, even turning the pages of a book–and your own personal marvel at all of the things your body can do. It’s been quite a journey.
As I bathed and dressed you tonight I saw how long your thighs (of all things) have grown, but was tickled to see that they’re still soft and round with little pockets of pudge. Like cream puffs. How I love them. And how much you’ve enjoyed them. Your thighs are responsible for so much you’ve seen and discovered over the past two years. Without your thighs, would you have been able to climb the rope ladders at the gym, chase our dog, trudge through the snow, swim in the pool? Would you be the same girl you are, you’re becoming without such experiences? And yet as I admired them it struck me that qualities such as pastry-like thighs are unfortunately, in our culture, only valued in the very young. Ten years from now, will you want your mom (or anyone else for that matter) to notice your thighs, much less compliment them for being anything but thin? skinny? lean? For your birthday my girl, I’ve decided to make my own wish. A wish for you and your thighs.
My wish is that you will escape the disease that afflicts so many American women today–the turn from appreciating our bodies and the way they bring us through the world (and others miraculously into it) to the scrutiny, obsession and unnecessary shame over how our bodies look. That a woman who has always been thin is writing this to you demonstrates how sinister, deceptive and blinding this disease can be. For it wasn’t until I had you that I learned to appreciate what my body can do rather than how it looks. My wish is that you will not follow in these footsteps.
My wish is that you will remember the light you felt when you took your first steps.
My wish is that you will not forget how your thighs allow you to run, jump, and climb. That should you find yourself years from now jogging in place on a treadmill at the gym it’s because such exercise makes you feel good and clears your mind, not because you enjoyed a slice (or four) of your own birthday cake the night before. The woman running on the treadmill next to you will be sweating to change the shape and size of her thighs oblivious to the fact that they are the reason she is able to run at all. May you be spared such an ironic fate.
May you never wrap a towel around your waist at the pool because you don’t want others to see you jiggle.
May you never circle your thigh or any other part of you with a tape measure.
May you never own a scale which, like so many other numbers, measures nothing.
May you always see food as one of the great joys of this world, one that brings people together; and may you never see food as an enemy–something to fear and feel shame over. May you recognize how lucky you are to have access to food at all.
May a mirror never make you cry. Or even make you shake your head.
May you realize that the people in this world worth your time, worth a place in your heart, are those who don’t care what size your thighs (or anyone else’s) are.
This is my wish for you, my sweet girl with thighs like rum babas.
ps–Off to bake your birthday cupcakes.