Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

05 March 2008

Yeah, but my [body part] is so [adj]

The hardest part about raising a daughter has been watching my mouth. I swear a lot. I use the F-word A LOT. I also take almost any opening I get to say something negative about my body.

"Oh these chicken breasts are huge!" I bet they could at least button their shirt.

As women, I think we all do this. As a woman who isn't a size 8 much less a size 2, I do this constantly. I work in an all-woman environment and at least once a week we find ourselves in some sort of "My body is worse" pissing match. So when I read Rosie's post my heart broke and I teared up at its brutal honesty:

One of the things that I often talk about is the need for us to modify our own language– what we project about ourselves– and the language of others. That instead of saying “I hate my cellulite” when someone else says she hates her nose in order to be in companionship with that person, we should say, “I can’t imagine why you would hate your nose, and you have a smile that lights up the world” (or whatever else might be the case)...After my talk at Amherst College, I met some roommates who told me about the Self Deprecation Jar they had in their suite. Anyone who says anything bad about him or herself has to deposit some cash in the jar. When it all adds up to a quality loaf of bread, they hit the bakery. I just loved it.

And so did I. Go ahead, click on the link to read the entire post, it's totally worth it.

I've assumed that we'd end up with a swear jar at some point at home, but a self deprecation jar? I never would have thought that up. But now it's out there. About six months ago my daughter asked her daddy if her legs were fat. She was just past her 4th birthday. Fat? *sigh* Thankfully it was a one-time occurrence, but it still lingers in the air.

The Gods created my daughter in my image and this is a blessing and a curse.

It is a curse because I really don't like my body. I treat it poorly. I don't take care of it the way I know I should. I scold it, poke it, and jiggle the flab. Yet I have read memoir after memoir essay about women growing up with mom's who diet and hated their bodies. Some of the women wrote about how others who comment that they were a "little Susan" at the same time they saw their mother's weighing chicken breasts to ensure a "correct dinner." I don't want that to be what my daughter remembers of me when she's grown and I'm dead.

It is a blessing because each morning I wake her up and see how freaking beautiful she is. I see how much she looks just like me when I was her age and it scares me. Some days I think something triggered the ugly gene...maybe around the same time I got curly hair aka puberty. But most of the time, I have to swallow my self-hate and realize that if she is this gosh darn beautiful (and it's been verified by many an outsider) then there must be some of that in me too.

And here I thought I needed a therapist, when all I needed was my daughter.

cross-posted at Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: body image, feminism, latina, Hijas Americanas

4 comments:

uhh......you?? ugly??? who's that gorgeous woman in the photo at hijas americanas then????

i know what you mean about having a child being better than therapy. there's also something about having them come running to you squealing when you walk in the door.

You are beautiful, Roni. And I think therapy wouldn't hurt, but I have a feeling Ella will continue to teach you more about yourself everyday.

Someday, someday, you'll see yourself as beautiful as I/we see you.

Totally agree with cinnamon. You are incredibly beautiful - on the outside and inside.

It is interesting how many people say our daughters look like us - then how beautiful they are - and at least for me, I always think - she doesn't REALLY look like me...she just turned out terrific by some miracle of God! (Same with Josh).

But I suppose that is the burden of all moms - we see our children as beautiful the way they are - even if we can't do the same for ourselves....

A lot to learn from that one!

Love you - D

I think that you are wise and aware far more than you recognize. You recognize that change needs to be made not only throughout society, but within yourself. Check out what we are doing at The Beautiful Women Project - www.beautifulwomenproject.org. Our message is simple but strong: It is the sum of a woman's life experiences that makes her beautiful. The thirty five women share their life stories - I bet you will see yourself, friends, and colleagues past, present and future in each one of these women. Check it out and tell me what you think. Nancy

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