One of my childhood memory was being incessantly compared with. I hated it. And I still do.
One of the other thing I grew up with was being teased that I was fat. I hated that too. Now, I try to embrace my love handles and muffin roll.
But because of these experiences among other things, I try to avoid them with my children.
I try not to emphasize on physical appearance (mine or otherwise) so that they’ll won’t.
I try to tell them that physical appearances are a gift. They had no part in it and thus should not be smug about it nor tease others in any way. On the other hand, I’m also mindful that positive comments on physical appearance are also important to their self-image (I blame all those parenting books for this paradox).
And yet during a particular Lunar New Year visitation, it happened. Not to me. The daughter got invariably compared with another because of their closeness in age. One of the comparison was weight. The daughter looked heavier than her friend and that comment along with her appetite were repeated over and over again by the acquaintances and relatives of the friends. No one seemed to take into account that both the husband and I are bigger than the other couple.
When someone wanted to carry her, my heart broke and I wanted to cry when my almost 3 year old looked up and said, “You can’t carry me. I’m too heavy.”
She. Is. Not. Even. Three.
I wanted to bash up the people there and then. I wanted to send out a press release to stop everyone from commenting about her weight in her presence. I wanted to send out warnings on every social media platform.
That’s when I realised I cannot protect her forever. I cannot always be there to shield her from the harsh words or the perceived ideal of others but I can help her to be strong and confident in who she is.
So I did the one thing I could.
I took her in my arms, looked her in the eyes and told her that there will always be people who will compare or comment but she is beautiful in God’s eyes and to us. Not because of her outwards appearance or the things she does but simply because she is just her.
I hope that works.
Someone told me, “But it’s true that she’s heavy.” Whether she’s heavy or not is besides the point (she’s actually of average weight). But why is there a need to point out and emphasize the physicality of our children, whether their appearance, height and weight?