Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Image of Self

Sometimes, I have a hard time thinking about things to write about and then I read another blog and the ball starts rolling. Cecily had a post yesterday about the body image of young girls and how that effects us as we grow older. I enjoyed reading the comments as much as her post. Its amazing how most women feel about how they look.

I know growing up, I had a very hard time with image and always worrying about how other people thought I looked. The dinner table was a huge part of my life. My father didn't talk to us much throughout the day but during and after dinner, we (the whole family) always sat around the table and talked. So I think I associated food and eating with being happy because those talking sessions made me feel like we were really a family. As I got older, my father would sometimes say, during dinner, things like "You're not going to have another helping are you?" or "Watch it Sheri, that's don't want to get fatter" meaning he already say me as fat. Another thing he said once to me was "don't you want to be like Susan?" . My older sister was perfect. Good at sports, very smart and pretty. She didn't have freckles, or wasn't the family bawl baby (I was and still am) and always was popular. I always thought she had better clothes than I did and I would take them and wear them which caused HUGE fights. It was hard living in her shadow when I thought my dad saw her as better than I. When I look at pictures of myself from then, I looked healthy and strong, not fat at all and I was pretty in my own way. What did my father see that I didn't? Did he really see me as fat or was it his way of being controlling?

Even to this day, with my weight being such an issue with me, I am embarrassed to see my father because he stills says things. He wouldn't say "Oh my God are you fat", but he would say something like "you looked so much better when you were thinner". Maybe so Dad, but I'm still the same person.

I hope in raising Hannah that Gary & I help her to install good thoughts about herself. I feel that is a very important gift we can give her. The ability to accept herself as she is, to do the best she can at what she tries, and to accept differences in others.


Anonymous said...

That is a very good way to raise your daughter, I too, have always had self-image problems. I remember watching Savannah, at 300 pound, full of self confidence, full of happiness and wearing belly shirts with lots of belly showing and not be bothered by it. I thought that it was great that she didn't put her whole self worth in her "size". I learned alot from her. I try not to say negative things about Bre, who is a bit over weight, but beautiful. If she is happy with herself and healthy, then I am happy. Now if only I could become happy with the way I feel about the way I look. Maybe we should all wear extra large grain sacks and no one would be able to judge us by the way we look. That would be nice!

Sue said...

I was pressured by Dad too! But for me it was biting my nails, pimples, and getting better grades. I don't know why, but it never got to me too much. I think its because I never admired him much or looked up to him. I hated that he couldn't get along with Scott and I hated his drinking and how he treated Mom. So I guess I didn't take what he said too much to heart. Now I just feel sorry for him. It's too bad he made the choices he did, there are so many events in our family that he has missed out on, and maybe he might have changed over the years. I'm sorry I am older than you, and you had to be compared to me. I know growing up that I never felt prettier, or smarter, or more athletic. I am jealous of you now, though. Because you get to have Mom to yourself all the time! I wanted to live near Mom, and have her watch my kids for me, and bond with them, and have Sunday dinners. Even though I live close to Avis, its not the same.

Shiela said...

Your entry was so true to life for me! Like you, I'm trying/hoping to raise my chidren NOT to have the same pressures and ill feelings abt their appearance - focusing more on health and happiness!
(((hugs))) I'm sorry!

Heather said...

Well said. I've talked a little (heh heh) on my blog about my body image. I am so conscious of what say to my kids, my daughter especially. I really don't want her to grow up with the same pressure I did. I try my best to ensure she grows up knowing how beautiful she is, inside and out, regardless of what other people think.

Jules said...

As I was going through my Gram's pictures before her funeral a few weeks ago, I saw many photos of me in college, and I couldn't believe how thin I was -- and how fat I thought I was at the time.

My parents made few comments about how we looked (I went through a very heavy stage in middle school/high school), but I think even without those comments, it's easy to have a poor self-image.

The best thing you can do is be kind to yourself -- your daughter will model what you do for yourself as much as what you do for her.

I love your writing Sheri. I don't often get to comment, but I read often.



Heather said...

Hey Sheri,

Lord knows I know what you are talking about. I have always had a rather horrid self image, although I have always tried to play it off like I don't. (yeah that worked) I too try very hard to be positive around my girls, I want them to love themselves no matter what they look like. I too have HUGE father issues so I can relate there as well. My sister and I talk about it and I often wonder if we really grew up in the same house. I, being 3 years older, seem to see things soooo very differently from my childhood. I swear my parents were 2 different sets of people.
God Bless hun and give Hannah a hug for me.

Sarah said...

Oh boy...did that ever bring back some "memories". I think we are a generation of women who are ready to love their daughters no matter what and would NEVER presume to say the things we heard. My dad didn't ever say anything, but my mom would...very sneakily....once she commented on my second large cup of orange juice (ORANGE JUICE FOR GOODNESS SAKES) and how many calories orange juice has in it. Sheesh. I hope we can all succeed in raising our daughters to just be smart about food (when your belly feels full) and love their bodies no matter what.

Tammy said...

Sheri, this post really spoke to me. I have struggled all my life with my weight and as I look back at pics esp of high school I realize that I was healthy, not fat. But my Mother put me on my first diet when I, I am sure some sort of transference related to HER body image issues. Now, as I work to lose the weight I have gained these last years, hopefully, I am healing from some of that. Thanks for your post and putting it out there...