When I was pregnant, we didn't find out the sex of the baby. I really, really wanted a girl though. I would pray for a healthy baby...with a vagina (I'm sorry if that word offends you. If so, pretend I said "bajinko"). I swore we were having a boy though. I called Captain Destructo "he" when referring to her in utero (as in "his head is banging against my crotch") and even painted the nursery blue and green. I was THRILLED when the doctor announced "it's a girl!" And I adore having a little girl. It's so fun to relate to her toys-she has a Strawberry Shortcake that I remember having too-and to dress her up in cute little dresses and bows (which she pulls out and tries to eat, but the point still stands). But, oftentimes I think about how hard it is to be a female teenager, and even school age girl. Because if Captain is anything like almost all of the women I know, she will struggle with her self esteem and body image in a way that her brothers never will.
When Captain Destructo was about 6 months old, I ran into a former coworker at Target. My daughter is chunky and I think it's totally adorable. The coworker said "she's so chunky! Does she ever stop eating?!" No, she sits in front of the TV eating Cheetos all day. How about SHE'S A BABY!!! All she eats is breastmilk (OK, and formula) but would she have asked that if Captain Destructo was a boy? Would it have just been cute then?
It's no secret that I have struggled with body image and disordered eating my whole life. I am pretty upfront about my eating disorders, mostly because I am narcissistic and like to talk about myself. I've been as low as 90 pounds and as high as 185 (well, that was 9 1/2 months pregnant, but still). My earliest memory connected to my weight is being in first grade and being too heavy to ride the seesaw with the little skinny girls in my class. When I was 10, I did the whole "look in the mirror and point out your flaws so other people will compliment you" routine, but even then it was obvious that I was a lot bigger than the other girls my age. I started dating after high school when I had healthily lost a lot of weight and felt good about myself. From then I sought to lose "just 5 more pounds" until I got so skinny that I fell asleep at 7:30 every night and really didn't care about anything except working out and not eating. I'm recovered now, but still wouldn't consider myself "normal" about food and exercising. Just yesterday I asked my husband what normal people eat for lunch. (Now that you know this, you know why I get all weird if you ask me to have a big lunch in the middle of the week or my body fat percentage.)
This would be all just one person's sob story if I was alone, but I'm willing to bet that you all can relate. This is why having a girl terrifies me. Because our society teaches her that big men are strong and big women are lazy. Because she will watch normal sized celebrities be criticized for their weight, make a big fuss and shout "I'm normal! I don't have to lose weight for anyone!" and then lose a bunch of weight anyway. Because when she is in elementary school, she will hear kids call each other fat and she will begin to contemplate how fat or thin she is in relation.
So I pray for her. I pray that God will bless her with the self esteem I never had and that she will love on others in a way that makes them forget their worries about their bodies. Moms, I pray for us, that we will watch what we say and do in front of our daughters. When we look in the mirror and pinch our waists in disgust, little eyes are watching. I know I've caught myself doing this in front of Captain Destructo (a point that will surely come up in her future therapy sessions).
And I pray for sons. (Just kidding....don't get me started on boys...that's for a future post)