I vividly remember hearing comments about my weight as a child. That’s the thing about kids, they understand more and earlier than you expect them to. I don’t remember when this started, but I know by the time I was in 4th grade I was weighing myself and hoping to see the numbers go down. I remember comparing myself to other girls in my family or my class and wondering why I was bigger. I’ve always been bigger. Not obese not even all that overweight, but bigger. You know the- I’m a little tea pot- song?

 I’m that fucking tea pot- short and stout.

Even as a girl, I didn’t have a thigh gap, I had muscle bound thighs that were great for sports, but not so great when trying on jeans. A kid once asked me, “why are your legs so big?” and you expect that kind of nonsense from kids your age. But when your own family says to you, ” well you just aren’t going to be one of those skinny girls, are you!” it hurts.

I’m a grown woman now and I’m slowly learning to appreciate my body for what it can do and  what it has done- run half marathons, loved a husband,  hiked mountains, grown and fed two beautiful human beings. Most of the body shaming that comes my way these days is from myself. So it’s easy to push the past into the past and forget about how hard it is to grow up in this culture. That is until your beautiful baby girl’s thigh rolls are the hot topic of conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, baby rolls are glorious. And I love talking about them. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t say something creepy like “I could just eat these rolls!!!” to my baby girl because she is just that delicious.  Some of that may be a not so well hidden pride-breastfeeding hasn’t been that easy for me and I’m proud that my hard work has translated into such adorable cheeks on both ends of her body. But how do you deal when people start mentioning your baby’s cellulite?

I don’t remember this with my son. He was just as chunky and delectable but I don’t remember people ever saying- Will you look at the thighs on him! Someone already has cellulite!  How much does he weigh? Well, he is going to be a big boy!

 I’m slowly realizing that when it comes to baby fat- gender matters.

My son’s baby blubber was more socially acceptable than my daughter’s. My one year old baby girl is being body shamed. In this culture where women constantly struggle to measure up, how do I protect my infant daughter’s fragile self esteem from the comments of friends, strangers, and family? I want her to grow up seeing her body as an ally to be celebrated not an enemy to be starved into social acceptability. I want her self esteem and image to come from the fact that she is a child of God and a kick ass human-not from the size label of her dress.
I know I can’t shield her from this pervasive attitude towards women as a mostly physical being. She will encounter it in school, at camp, hell even at church or at home. But I will work as hard as I possibly can to protect her from my insecurities about my own weight. I will try not to speak poorly of myself in front of my daughter. I will not let the first thing out of my mouth to a little girl be- don’t you look beautiful today! And I will fiercely defend her while I still can from words spoken against her beautifully made little body. I will protect her self esteem with everything I can and hope that the other people in her life that love her will do the same. Mom on, y’all.