I have been rather happy with my weight for some time now. I have struggled most of my pre-teen and teen years; not with my weight, but with my body image. I don't post numbers- not weight, dress size, comparison's to others (when not necessary for a point)- because I don't want to trigger other people and because I don't think it is necessary to talk about in most conversations, but suffice to say, no one would be likely to think that I had any reason to lose weight. No one, that is, except for my 8 year old daughter.
This week, she told me that if she were as big as I am, she would go on herbal magic. When I tell this story to people who know me, they seem to find it funny... possibly because I am so small that the comment seems ridiculous, but I don't find it funny at all.
We talked quite a bit about it afterward. I even showed her "photoshop disasters" (I use quotes because I could argue that merely using photoshop is disastrous) in order to explain how images that she sees in the media are not real. The bodies that she sees every day on tv and print ads, the ones that she is supposed to aspire to look like, are heavily edited.
But still, she thinks that all girls need to be as skinny as they can.
Now, normally in my posts I try to use polite language, to let my message get the point across, but not this time. This time, I am really pissed off.
Fuck you teletoon for showing my daughter weight loss commercials that tell her that fat people are miserable until they get skinny.
Fuck you media more generally for showing her so few variations of the female body; for presenting her with a very specific acceptable female body type.
And fuck you patriarchal capitalist social relations for teaching my 8 year old that her worth as a human being is forever linked to the numbers on the scale or the size of her dress.
Hearing her say things things hurts in a way that I can't even begin to describe. It doesn't hurt my feelings that she calls me fat... I'm rather thick skinned. It gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach to think about what this is doing to her, what she is learning, how easily she internalizes these messages about what girls are and what they are supposed to be.
But what can I do about it? Talking to her probably helps, but it doesn't seem to be working. No matter how loudly I tell her that it doesn't matter, there are thousands of voices telling her that it does. They are louder; she doesn't believe me when so much goes against what I say. She is starting to believe that she is not good enough, but then, how can she be? How can anyone be good enough when the images aren't real?
I need some advice about other things I can do to try and get this message across... any good books or videos appropriate for an 8 year old girl?