72. Skinny Doesn’t Matter

72. Skinny Doesn’t Matter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Skinny Doesn’t Matter

Becoming acquainted with yourself is a price well worth paying for the love that will really address your needs.

~Daphne Rose Kingma

“Mom, are you chubby or skinny?” My seven-year-old daughter studied me as if she’d been considering this question for some time.

I glanced at myself in the nearby mirror. I was somewhat chubby, still carrying an extra 15 pounds from my three pregnancies. In the past three years, I had also gained and lost 30 pounds from depression and a malfunctioning thyroid. And then came two miscarriages.

But now, three months after having my son, I was feeling pretty good — liking myself and getting back to who I wanted to be — in body and mind.

No, I wasn’t the athletic, thin girl I was in my twenties. But here I was, three months postpartum, and down 20 pounds from where I was two years earlier. And besides, my health journey wasn’t about the number on the scale. Even though I was heavier than I’d been pre-baby, I felt healthier than I had in decades, possibly ever.

I sat down on the bed beside my daughter and looked into her dark brown eyes. At seven, she was tall and thin. But she had a whole life ahead of her.

This was an important conversation. How I chose to see myself now would be reflected in how she and her sister saw themselves in the future. As a teacher I’d seen too many young girls obsess over their size no matter how small and thin they were.

“I like to think I’m neither, because honestly it doesn’t matter,” I said.

“Why do you work out so often then,” she asked, “and get all excited about losing weight or about your clothes fitting?”

Kids were observant, and she was right. How did I explain to a seven-year-old that even though I was excited about fitting into my smaller clothes, being skinny wasn’t important? Getting skinny wasn’t why I was working out and eating better. I was doing it to be in a better place mentally.

How I chose to see myself now would be reflected in how she and her sister saw themselves in the future.

“Your mind and your body are connected,” I told her. “Before I had you kids, I used to go to the gym every week. Then after you kids were born, remember how we used to walk . . . and then when we moved here, we walked less? Around that time, I also got sad and kind of grouchy.”

“How does that fit with being skinny?” she asked.

“It doesn’t and that’s the point. After I had your brother, I wanted to make working out a habit again, because it makes me feel better and happier. Working out is good for you because it’s healthy for your body to not be overweight, but it also has huge mental benefits for your brain. And it gives you energy, which I need to keep up with the kids at work and the three of you. Working out makes my body stronger physically and mentally so I can be healthier — to be here for a long, long, long time with you, your sister, and brother.”

“So you’re skinny?” she asked. (“No!” I wanted to scream. Why was this so hard to explain to her? And how could I convince her to delete that word from her vocabulary?)

“Honey, being skinny or chubby — “curvy” is a better way to say it — doesn’t matter. It’s about feeling good in your own skin and loving your body and treating it well. Anytime you do something good for yourself or others, you feel good about it, right?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Then, I should feel fantastic when I’m your age,” she added, as she grinned and flexed her arm muscles, “since I started working out with you when I was seven!”

I chuckled as she ran out of the room, and then I looked in the mirror again.

I had lost myself for a while, but now I’d found my way back. Just in time for my girls to see me as the confident mom I am now rather than the lost one of before.

~Angela Williams Glenn

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