It’s a word I never imagined could be used to describe my 3 year old. I thought – and still think – of Peanut as “fine”. She’s small, but solid. Without so much as the suggestion of a belly. She’s active – she’ll walk up to one mile without complaint. She plays soccer, and takes dance. She eats some veggies, lots of fruits, and loves bananas. She wears a 3T – the one she’s supposed to…I think. Does vanity sizing apply to toddler clothing?
But as I stood in an exam room during Peanut’s 3 year check up a few weeks ago, it became apparent that the doctor didn’t think her height and weight matched up the way they were “supposed” to. As the pediatrician explained, her height is in the 9th percentile; her weight the 64th. I wouldn’t expect Peanut to have a fighting chance at being overly tall; the odds certainly aren’t in her favor (neither my husband nor I are particularly big).
By clinical standards.
I should add a disclaimer here: in that moment, I was completely horrified. Mostly because I cringe at how the word was thrown at us (and within Peanut’s earshot). Is it appropriate to use this as a descriptive for small children who are generally active and healthy? Seasoned mothers (including my own) would probably tell you that growth is a series of steps; some kids stay a little longer at one step and jump over the next.
Naturally, I can easily tell you what the ideal is for women; I’ll give you a bulleted list. Like many others, I struggled with years of body image issues. Issues I only truly shed after giving birth to a girl – an experience that greatly altered my perspective.
I know that struggle isn’t something I wish for my daughter.
Of course it’s unrealistic to believe that Peanut will never experience a moment of doubt about her appearance. But I hope that those thoughts will be fleeting; quickly replaced with ideas of how smart or strong or talented she is. That she’ll be able to quiet the voices of those few people who don’t have anything nice to say (we’re all aware of their existence).
I know I’m part of the equation. It’s a responsibility we take on as mothers.
Right then, in a cold and sterile physicians office, I became even more determined to accept myself for what I look like.
And who I am.