Stephen’s parents gave us the book Bringing up Girls, and last night I read the first three chapters. In one chapter, Dr. Dobson says that by ages nine and ten, 40% of girls have already tried to lose weight. I read that and just wanted to cry. Girls shouldn’t be thinking about their weight at ages nine and ten, but I know I was. I was always conscious of my size because I was always the “big girl” in my class. I didn’t like the way I looked, and I wished I could be like the pretty, skinny girls in my classes–the ones who seemed to have the perfect life. But I was just me, an overweight girl in glasses who didn’t have many friends and so instead got lost in the world of books.
I wish I could go back to my nine-year-old self and tell her that she is beautiful, that she is loved and treasured and valued. I wish I could tell her that someday people will like her not for what she looks like but for who she is, and that she will find love in the arms of Christ and later in the arms of her husband. I wish I could tell her not to worry so much about how she looks but to focus instead on building her character and building her faith. I wish I could tell her that the people who made fun of her for being fat or ugly weren’t worth her time, and the ones who were worth her time would never make fun.
Most of all, I wish I could tell her it gets easier, but honestly, it hasn’t. I still struggle mightily with my appearance, and there are many days where I cringe when I look in the mirror and wish I were prettier or skinnier. And now I find myself carrying a little girl inside of me, and all of these struggles take on a new importance. I don’t want to leave my daughter with a legacy of self-loathing. I don’t want her to be worried about her weight when she is nine or ten years old. I don’t want her to wonder if she is pretty or if a boy will ever like her. I have tears in my eyes as I write this because I remember so vividly having those fears and more, and I want to keep her from that. But how? I don’t know if I can keep her from those fears, but I pray that God will help me conquer this demon in my own life so I can give Charlotte the tools she needs to grow up into a beautiful woman of God who walks with humility and grace and confidence.