Sunday, March 6, 2011

Body Image

I normally try to write about the humorous side of being the mother of two boys, but I want to take a moment to address something more serious, a little closer to my heart. Because, bloggers, friends and family, you are my source of information and advice. You are not afraid of telling it like it is, whether it's Mother of a Monster and Twins, Fine, How Are You, Letters for Lucas or being some of my favorite fathers out there (and Beta Dad, Mental Poo, My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog, and others, I'm talking about you.)

I've always told myself I like surprises, but I don't. On both sides of the fence. If someone tells me they have a surprise for me, yeah, I'll act all nonchalant and such, but really...I want to know NOW. I also blame this trait for my procrastination on buying Christmas gifts, because the minute I buy the gifts, I can't WAIT for people to open them. Thus, the reason I HAD to know the sex of my first child the moment I was able. Sure, I'll tell you it was because we had just bought a new house and I needed to paint the nursery, but really, I just had to know. When I found out I was having a boy, I was happy. I've never been the girly-girl type and I hate pink. I hate to shop, I have no fashion sense, and it takes every fiber of my being not to bite my nails (which are never painted). My second pregnancy, Shawn was really hoping for a girl (he's the youngest of 6 boys - can you blame him?). When they announced that my little apple had a stem, I was silently relieved. Two boys! No princesses, no fashion issues I would screw up, no awkward silences when it came to petty cat-fights between other girls, no, "I'm too fat," discussions...or so I thought.

Before (if) you continue reading, I want you to know that my son is six. That's first grade, about the time you learn to read, girls are just "friends," you play with 'guys' and spit a lot when you make all the hitting noises, and you blush if the word "sex" is spoken on TV (and I consider that ahead of the game).

Without further adieu, here is my issue...Kaiden thinks he's fat. My SON thinks he's FAT. I thought I would have to deal with showing women respect, instill in him that opening doors for a woman (girl) was gallant (not how loud you could burp or fart) and I would deal with frogs, bugs, dirt and peeing everywhere but in the toilet, but fat? I'm not prepared. Yes, Kaiden has a belly, and yes, he is about three to four inches shorter than his peers, but he's growing. He's not gaining weight, and he's getting taller, so it will all even out. Does he eat more than he should? Maybe. But he's a growing boy. His brother is nearly underweight and eats anything and everything and still looks like he should be adopted for less than a dollar a day.

How do I know that this is an issue, besides the fact that he's told me he's fat? He won't wear a sweatshirt that doesn't have a zipper because if he has to pull it over his head, he's afraid his stomach will show when he takes it off. I wanted to get him involved in wrestling because his dad was a state champion, but when I asked him if he wanted to enroll, the first question was if he would have to take his shirt off, and then the answer was no. He refuses to be involved in sports that require anyone to touch him. When buying him school clothes one Fall, he checked under the dressing room stall to make sure there was no one who could see him and he made me double check that the door was locked before undressing.

As a mother, the first question is, "What did I do to make him think this way?" I think that I look inward because I have always had a weight issue myself, but really not a weight issue, but a body issue problem. Did I subconsciously make him feel that how much you weigh is a problem?

I always considered myself fat. I wasn't. My first year in college, I weighed 98 lbs. No kidding. If I only knew then what I know now. I was depressed. I thought I would assert my independence by moving 5 1/2 hours away from home, away from my boyfriend of 2+ years (a big deal at 18), and go to college where no one knew me. I wasn't miss popular in high school, but I got along with everyone. For some reason I thought that moving so far away would force me to not be one of those people who stayed in the same clique and wallowed in the glory days of high school. It backfired. I was lonely, I knew no one, I confined myself to my dorm room and didn't go out..not even to eat. Just to classes.

But this is not about me. I'm just giving you some background so that you know I was UBER aware of not wanting to pass those issues along. My husband is overweight. He hates it. But he hates losing his hair more. We don't say, 'fat,' at home, we stress eating 'healthy.' We try not to compare the boys on any level, good or bad. We believe they each have their own unique qualities which make them special in their own way.

When this subject first came up, I asked Kaiden if someone at school had said something. No. Was he teased? No.

I'm lost. He's well liked. Girls call him (yes, at six!), boys call him and the teacher says there is no problem at school. So if he isn't being teased and we don't say anything at home, where is this coming from? Do TV ads affect him? Does he see a 'perfect male' in commercials with a six pack and wonder why that isn't him?

I have assured him, he is wonderful the way he is. He's smart, cute, funny and has lots of friends. I've also tried to go a level further and try to explain (in a Dick and Jane sort of way) that he is constantly changing. I'm including a picture so you can offer your unbiased opinion.

So, I'm reaching out to all of you. Do you have any suggestions? How do I help him be more confident? Has anyone else experienced this? If so, how did you handle this? My boy is a good-looking kid with the biggest heart, he loves his family, school and a good knock-knock joke. Someday, he will have a female tell him he has beautiful eyes, a great smile, a wonderful sense of humor and he will treat them better than 90% of the other males they come in contact with.

The manual doesn't have anything on this. Any advice is appreciated. I don't want him to ever have anything hold him back from everything that he is capable of...especially body image.


  1. ugh... this makes me sad.

    your son looks like a cute, happy, average-sized boy to me. maybe try reading some fun (age appropriate) books together that are aimed at body image issues...? just go to amazon and look up "body image" in the childrens' books section.

    also, maybe ask him who his role models are and who he would like to look like. then tell him those people probably had other things they were self conscious about.

    good luck.

  2. Lucky, I like the idea of asking him about his role models. That would maybe give me some insight as to where some of this is coming from. Thanks!

  3. Wow, this is a toughie. It sounds to me like you are already doing everything right. I'm sure that TV and other media are what are influencing him. I think a book is a great idea. Also, I know you do some stuff on the Wii right? Maybe you could see if he wants to do it with you? Like the dancing ones where you work up a sweat. Not that he needs it, but sometimes if they feel like there is something they can do about it, some level of control they can exert they feel better. I would just keep emphasizing that he is still growing and his body will always be changing. Good luck girl, I'm sorry that you have to deal with this already. :-(

  4. Did I just write this?? Sheesh you are ME, it's weird! First of all THIS TO SHALL PASS as long as you LET It. Pay it no mind, don't stress, don't give it attention and probably take the word fat out of the house vocabulary. I say all of this because our son went from skinny to thick at age 8. He is now 14 and it's a struggle. He's been called Tommy Boy, and everything else. His sisters are skin and bones. I stopped saying I felt fat,tried not to focus on his weight and rfused to buy pants that said Husky and if they did, cut the tags out. I want him to know I think he is perfect no matter what while inside I am watching what he eats and praying he grows 6". But it's hard..... Your guy is fine, kids are funny, but thankfully resiliant as long as they can count on that one person.....

  5. Jo - I did try exercising on the Wii and he wanted to join in, which was great, until I nearly knocked him out. But we still play games :-)

    Kristen - You have no idea how I wish we lived closer to one another, if for nothing else, a girl's night out! We seem to have a lot in common and it would be great to have someone to chat with. But this is close!

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  8. Angela,
    We had this problem with my son when he was in elementary school. He would complain he was fat. We had talks about his feelings about his weight, and had the "it will get better talk" Showed him pics of me in high school @ 145lbs and now, well let's say not 145lbs. Showing him pictures of his uncle in school ( he was was bigger) and now he weighs like 150. Brayden, our son, is now 14 and slimmed down,(135 last check) and now has a better outlook on himself. If ya want I can send you some before and after pics of him for your son to show him that, it'll all work out. Now our son is wanting to lift weights to "bulk up" for High school football next year,and he's finding it a hard time to keep weight on. It all get better.
    Paul Clark
    Sorry about the deletes prior, I kept rereading and finding mistakes.

  9. That would be awesome. Thank you for being so kind. I think the pics would help.