Thursday, June 14, 2012

Writer's Workshop: Buffalo Butt

My 8 year old daughter announced she was fat the other day.

She outweighs her 9 year old brother by 2 pounds.

She is not fat.  She is long and lanky and a bit more solid when compared to her brother, but she is nowhere near fat or even slightly chubby. She is also stunning... really and truly stunningly beautiful.

I cringed when she said it, because I know I have done this to her.  She has watched me agonize and analyze and watch what I eat and complain about my appearance and I have taught her that it is important.

I have failed her.

Buffalo Butt.

That is what they called me. 

Like my daughter, I'd always been a long and lanky child, but in 3rd grade I discovered a voracious love of reading and started taking the bus instead of walking to school.  That, along with what was probably the onset of pre-puberty added a little insulation that had never been there before and in the 4th grade, the children started calling me names.

Because they knew they could.  

Because it devastated me and I wasn't tough enough to hide the hurt.

I never really got over it.  My mother had me in counseling in the 5th grade, I went again when I was 19 and again as I was going through my divorce.  This "crinkle" if you will, in my psyche is something I have never been able to heal.

I still cringe when I look in the mirror.  I don't see what everyone else sees.  I don't have a realistic perception of what I look like and I'm almost afraid to find out, because what if it's worse than I think?

My daughter thinks she is fat.

It is my fault.

Because when I was 9, my classmates said something mean to me and I never got over it.

Mama’s Losin’ It
Share something mean someone said to you once, why has it stuck with you after all these years?


Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

This hit home with me so much, not because of the fat, but because the lasting effects of some childhood hurts have stayed with me in similar ways. I wish we could erase those early hurts because they stick and cut deep, leaving lasting scars. :(

Hugs, friend.

Betsy said...

The cruelty of kids never ceases to amaze me. Actually, the cruelty of humans-- kids or adults. I try to teach my kids that they will always have to deal with mean people and it's best to learn how to do it now but that's not an easy lesson to learn. Or to teach.

SisterSister said...

I think it's completely normal to have hurtful things said to you as a child that you never can really shake off. Harsh words seem to cut a little deeper in those formative years. Mean kids are, sadly, a fact of life (and as Betsy said above mean adults too). Sorry this is still hurting you.

just stopping in from mk's

Jaya J said...

my life is a constant battle between my love for food and trying to not get fat. i've always felt fat even during the most athletic period of my life. but the more i learn about eating healthy and fitness, i'm able to appreciate my body better. these days i exercise to keep fit and to stay healthy, no longer to stay skinny.
even then, when my mom says i'm fat every now and then, it puts me in a cranky mood. then i look in the mirror and i know that i'm just curvy and generally healthy.

Tiffany said...

I know the pain of feeling and looking inadequate. :( I was a thin and busy child until the 4th grade also and when other kids notice a weakness, it's all over. I struggled with my weight all the rest of my school years plus the fear of being picked on. Not to mention now dealing with insecurity, low self esteem and constantly worrying. My husband says it's all in my head and I don't have to worry.

I hate to admit it, but I want to make sure my daughter does not get overweight and never endures that criticism. School is bad enough without having to deal with that too.

Sounds like it's time for a heart to heart about it. I have found that telling your kids your feelings as to why you do the things you do or say, really resonates with them. (hugs)

Kerry said...

It amazes me how kids can be so mean. I think it's a bonding experience for them. One kid says something mean, so others join in so they fit in with their peers. But they don't think about the person getting hurt. I'm sorry you had to go through this. said...

Ugh! I have always been either teased or praised for my "J-Lo" butt. It used to be the part of my body I loathed the most - hid it as often as I could. But recently, I just decided to "get over it" because both of my girls had started saying things like, "gawd, my butt is so big". I too had given them the wrong message. We need to embrace our curves - think of all the women who either want to have or actually have had plastic surgery to enhance their butt! My butt keeps my pants up - it makes it easier for me to sit on the bleachers for long periods of time, without it, I wouldn't have any curves! Embrace your butt - well, maybe not literally. And no it's never too late to set a good example for your children and teach them new perspective.

Blond Duck said...

Mine was my skin. I had horrible acne and super oily skin. Kids would smack papers to my forehead to count how long they stuck or asked me why I wanted to wear my pizza instead of eating it. Make up just made it worse. One girl named Brittany always snapped, "You have a line! God, don't you ever wash your face?"

Wombat Central said...

Kids can be brutal. My twiggy daughter has already asked me if she's fat--my son, too! We live in a warped society where too much emphasis is placed on our outer appearance and not nearly enough on what's within. With a wonderful mom like you, I'm sure your daughter will be just as beautiful inside as she is outside.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Women, in general talk a lot about things that don't really matter. Weight and looks and clothing top that list.

Unfortunately, we do it in front of kids who HEAR and HOLD everything we say.

We could blame society, but really it's us.

As a teacher, I talk about health and not size. If I am trying to lose weight, I don't let the kids see my lunch. If I like a young woman's clothing, I don't tell her, instead,in that moment I comment on her heart, her smarts, her sense of humor or her effort.

This is not to say I don't have the same funhouse mirror in my head that all women do, I just try to keep it away from children.

Heather said...

It's hard because those hurts are so much a part of us that they can't help but effect how we parent. I think being honest with her about why you do the things you do and then giving her that constant reassurance that she is perfect the way she is helps.

I also thinks it helps being involved in some sort of physical activity that puts emphasis on what your body CAN DO not what your body looks like. I know my girls are constantly talking about how strong they are, how fast they are, and their muscles (have I mentioned how super confident/cocky they are). Not that my tween doesn't ever mention her abs (she thinks she has a 4 pack hahaha) or her bum (she inherited my junk in the trunk), or her thicker thighs (again from me) but it is all wrapped up in that super powerful package of her that can do back flips, play a whole lacrosse game without breaks, and pitch a softball over 40 miles an hour. Because she is so happy with what her body can do she kind of just accepts the other as quirks.

Of course all of that is right now - ask me when she is 15 and it may be a different story.

Erin said...

Kids are so cruel! It is so heart breaking to hear and watch you kids go through the same things you went through as a child.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

:( I'm sorry that you were teased. I'm sorry that those cruel kids left you with something that sticks sometimes. You're beautiful. You're amazing. Therapy is empowering, but sometimes we forget what we've learned. I speak from experience.

Your daughter is beautiful. I hate that she said that, but it is not YOUR fault. It's a combination of things that this world brings our children and leads them to think that the ideal is so much more than anyone actually is. ANYONE. Sending you love and hugs, mama. My sweet and beautiful friend. You and your girl are amazing. I speak the truth.

Amy said...

It breaks my heart when little girls say they are fat. I don't like that they start with the body image issues at such a young age.

It isn't your fault. The world is full of people telling us if we aren't perfect we aren't worth anything. It is this negativity that feeds these feelings.