On Having a Girl


Having a girl is hard. I mean, mine isn’t even six yet; she’s years away from puberty, and it’s still hard…

I have issues with food. I am beginning a diet for the 397th time on Monday. The Monday after Thanksgiving, as I have every year that I can recall. I aspire to again fit into my skinny-ish jeans. Not the skinny jeans that I wore in college or the even skinnier ones I wore the months leading up to my wedding, but the skinny-ish ones I wore after I had Evan. Before that, I was at my smallest weight ever months during the months after Ben was born. His hospital fridge was stocked with Enfmail and Slimfast. I was motivated. I was ready. And I got there, but just couldn’t maintain it. It’s actually the reason I went off of birth control pills; the notion of being able to eat again over-rod my fears of having another child. A year before that, I intentionally got pregnant with Ben to be pregnant during my college roommate’s wedding. Being the knocked up bridesmaid was far preferable to being the heaviest one.

Lily refuses to wear flowy clothes. She claims they make her look “flat” and by “flat” she means “fat” and it’s tragic and funny all at once. She’s not even six years old for crying out loud.

When I was about ten, I stole a candy bar from a supermarket. I clumsily shoved it in my pocket while an off duty security guard watched and reported it my parents who were mere feet away. I know they were concerned: What deep-seeded issues did I have? Did I need therapy? Have an eating disorder? What should they do? Nothing, I thought. I just wanted a fucking candy bar.

Lily has been sneaking food from home. I find wrappers under the bed and smell chocolate on her breath. I see myself in her and it scares the shit out of me. I don’t want to be like my parents and limit junk food so rigidly that it becomes an obsession, but I feel like she needs strong boundaries. She’s built like a dancer and probably will never have the issues with weight that I do, but I want to do right by her. I am determining a life-long relationship with food for her, and the responsibility overwhelms me.

Being a girl is hard.

Having a girl is even harder.


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  1. 1

    vodkamom says

    i hear you loud and clear.

    Bitchy is obsessed with exercising- and it frightens me. I’ve been “dieting” for 15 years now, and I know that it has impacted my girls. I just add it to the list of ways I’ve f*#*&ed up my kids.

    However, I promise myself EACH DAY that I will be a better mother. Yeah. I’m in that club. But, I do try. I really, really do

    Excellent post. I’m glad you were brave.

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  2. 4

    Susan @susiehousewife says

    You should start a club, I would join and buy the t-shirt. I have 2 girls ages 8 and 10 and they are already obsessed with their weight. It really concerns me. My mom was bulimic and I had to witness her in and out of the hospital my entire childhood. We’re estranged now but my brother showed me a photo of her yesterday and she’s easily 350 lbs now. I freaked out, made a comment about getting back to my workouts after Thanksgiving. This morning my 8 YO asked when we were going to run off the turkey and pie. She’s skinny as a rail so if anything she needs to eat more turkey.

    My approach with the girls is all about making healthy choices. We all go to the gym 2-3 times a week. No one eats after 7:00. We have balanced meals and they help me with menu planning and shopping. You have the right attitude. This is a lifestyle we are creating for our girls.

    Thanks for your post. I’m glad I’m not the only mom who thinks about these things.
    .-= Susan @susiehousewife´s last blog ..Food! =-.

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  3. 5

    Lula says



    I appreciate your candor. I also appreciate you for many other things…(a) making me crave a Snickers bar, which I won’t have to steal, as I have one here…(b) your desire to do right by your daughter…and (c) starting a diet on Monday. I. Am. Too.

    Being a girl is hard…having a girl is harder…brilliantly said, my dear!
    .-= Lula´s last blog ..He Makes Me Smile. =-.

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  4. 6

    Mommy In The Making says

    I love your honesty. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, and now that I’m trying to start my own family, I already worry about these same eating issues. (I’ve even put off having kids until I can lose some weight, knowing I’ll gain more when I’m pregnant.) I don’t want to pass down my body image issues.

    I think I’ll feel good if I can just teach my kids to eat and feel healthy, no matter what pants size or scale number they think they should be. Or maybe this is a case where the kids become the teachers and they’ll give me a reason to feel better about myself.

    Thanks for bringing up this issue. It’s so important.
    .-= Mommy In The Making´s last blog ..Gratitude =-.

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  5. 7

    Lee says

    Amen, my sister. As a big woman and a Mom of a 16 year old girl (and two little boys who eat like they are in a competition), it’s hard to instill good eating habits and a healthy relationship with food. My daughter has a peep addiction which is funny now but will ultimately bite her in the huge ass when she’s older.

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  6. 8

    Cara says

    When I was growing up my mom was thin with a VERY healthy self-esteem (still has it, although she’s not as thin as she used to be). In fact, her attitude was “I’m not perfect, but pretty darn close.” Somehow, despite that, I have body issues. Always have. When I was 110 pounds and now at *coughcough* pounds. I have never looked in the mirror and loved what I saw. Never.

    As parents, we can only do so much. You love them and tell them how wonderful they are and hope for the best.

    Glad you posted this!!
    .-= Cara´s last blog ..Gobble Gobble =-.

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  7. 9

    The Marketing Mama says

    My mom majorly restricted junk food – and I rebelled by eating a ton after I got out of her reach. Now I’m quite overweight. Well, the two babies had something to do with it, but I eat emotionally like a million people I know.

    When my kiddos scream that they are starving or want a snack and they clearly should be full – I often will offer them a piece of fruit or nothing – it’s about 50/50 of what they choose. They are always hoping for junk… I’m not looking forward to my 2 year old becoming 6. ugh.
    .-= The Marketing Mama´s last blog ..The pink glove dance – hospital video goes viral =-.

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  8. 10

    Rhea says

    I saw your tweet that you posted something maybe to honest, and I’m so glad I stopped by to read. Awesome post and so raw. I worry so much about messing up my boys. Being a parent is the hardest thing ever and the most rewarding. I only have boys and that’s hard enough. I know girls are more complicated. Loved your post.

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  9. 11

    Amy says

    This post makes me grateful that I stopped dieting well before my girls were born. I “discovered” fat acceptance when I was 22 and it literally changed my life. I haven’t dieted since, and most of the time I am comfortable in my own skin. (My size 18 skin.) I surround myself with friends who don’t diet or talk about being fat/not being fat, and who embody a variety of ways of being beautiful and interesting. I don’t have fashion magazines in the house and we don’t have cable, so the only exposure my girls (six and four years old) have to cultural norms of beauty are through billboards and other outdoor advertising.

    And somehow it seems like it’s working — or I’m just lucky. My oldest is a clothes horse – she loves to put together outfits – but she doesn’t seem to care how she actually LOOKS in them. She relates to her body mainly as a tool to get things done.

    I feel like I’m dodging a bullet, and I know this is too good to last – sooner or later my girls will have friends who diet, or they will decide that I am too fat and they don’t want to be like me. Or they will gain weight (they are both slim now) and we’ll have to confront the issue together. But for now, thank goodness, it’s a non-issue for me. I wish it were for you, too.

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  10. 12

    The Penny-Pinching Mama says

    Gosh, I have not thought about what’s ahead, but it is very real and I’m sure I will be dealing with the very same problems in a few years. I too starved myself and maintained it for a few years, slowly gaining the weight back the happier I got. I used to purposely leave all of my money at home so I could not buy food when I was taking college classes from 8am-8pm. I’d go to the gym at dinner time and told my parents I’d eat later, and then I pretended to eat when I got home., having maybe a bite or two. So many of us have these issues. Food is just too damn good. I hope you don’t blame yourself for your daughter’s newfound behavior. There are countless sources of influence these days. Good luck, and I hope everything works out well.
    .-= The Penny-Pinching Mama´s last blog ..Rudolph’s Gift Guide Day 27: Seagate Portable Hard Drive Review & Giveaway! =-.

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  11. 13

    mel says

    It is hard. I’ve struggled with body image my whole life. I now have a 9yr old and 1yr old girl. Recently I’ve forced myself to adopt “healthy eating” habits around them althought – will still have my starvation or even bindging moments. I’m starting diet/exercise plan #213 tomorrow. I’m doing it to be healthy but it’s also so because I don’t want to avoid the camera or mirrow anymore. I’m with you on this. I hear my daughter say things like “this makes me look puffy” and I reassure her she’s perfect. Hypocrite I am.
    Being a girl is hard.

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  12. 14

    Lolli says

    It IS hard, I agree. While my problem was not weight, I have seen others of my problems reflected in my own girls. It is somehow completely different with my boys. It’s tough to see your children following you in your weaknesses and knowing full well what they have ahead of them.
    .-= Lolli´s last blog ..A Penny In the Ocean, A Penny in the Sea =-.

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  13. 15

    Amy says

    Sorry, one more thing. I have to disagree with Krystyn – telling your three-year-old that she’s getting “big” or “heavy” is NOT harmful! She is getting big, she is getting heavy. She’s growing, of course she’s getting big and heavy!

    What’s harmful is treating the words “big” and “heavy” as if they’re dirty words. Your reluctance to celebrate her bigness is going to linger in her mind and make her wonder if growing bigger is a bad thing.

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  14. 16

    Bianca says

    I have the opposite problem. Skinnyness runs in my family. Unable to gain weight. My 4yo is skin over bones and there is nothing I can do about it. My 2yo girl is skinny too. I could start feeding them all the junk food in the world to try to make him fatter, but I refuse to (and I dont think it would hlep anyway). I think it is better that they learn good eating behaviours now.

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  15. 17

    Lindsay says

    I totally relate. Until the year after college I was training to be a professional ballet dancer. I flip-flopped between anorexia and bulimia mixed with a little sleeping in saran wrap, etc to try to maintain the stick thin ballet body.

    The upside, people told me all through my school years that I should be a model. The downside, I had the worst self esteem and was EXTREMELY depressed.

    After therapy and quiting dancing, I finally got my eating habits in check. I no longer diet or monitor what I eat. If I want chips, I eat chips. And this actually keeps me at a good weight with no yo-yoing. Now am I saying that I wouldn’t want to be even skinnier? Nope. Bad habits never completely die. But at least I’m skinny enough and most importantly, happy.

    I’d recommend that you take the same approach with your daughter. Prepare healthy meals for your family and if (and when) she eats some junk food, don’t make her feel guilty about it. Also, try to not make comments about your own weight around her. She’ll emulate what you do because she looks up to you.

    Best of luck,
    .-= Lindsay´s last blog ..Photoshop Tutorial: Fixing Red Skin =-.

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  16. 18

    Erica says

    Wow. You know, I can really relate. I had an ED forom about the time I was 16 til I was 21. I was in and out of hositals and therapists’ office. I was on mess. I was eating. I was not eating. I eas piling. I was bingeing. And now, I am 32. With a daughter of my own. What if she has the same issues I had? Looking back, I had a great childhood. If anything my mom and dad did more for us than we could have imagined and I was still screwed up. What’s more frightening is… What if I project my own issues on her and the way she eats or looks? Is there anything easy about parenting?

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  17. 19

    thepsychobabble says

    1) I now want a candy bar

    2) I read somewhere that, I think it was 90% of women in western societies feel grossed out or disgusted by their body in some way.

    3)There was a Fiji island that had no tv, and a long standing cultural belief that you were only skinny if you were fallen on hard times somehow. Bigger=better, for real. The researchers couldn’t find even 1% of adolescent girls with eating disorders, that’s how few there were.
    3 years after tv was introduced, eating disorders, diets and self-induced vomiting had sky-rocketed. (I don’t have the exact number in front of me) but it’s damn scary stuff. Hang in there mama.
    .-= thepsychobabble´s last blog ..I’m not here today =-.

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  18. 20

    Kerri says

    I’ve struggled with food and weight all my life. I starved myself for years so I could be the skinny girl. Now I’m trying to eat reasonably and exercise. But it’s really hard. Weight and acceptance in my family are linked. I feel ya. I have no answers. But I feel ya.

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  19. 21

    Headless Mom says

    Excellent post. Raising girls is hard. I had to school my husband on not using the “f-word” in front of her when she was younger. We got through it, so will you.
    .-= Headless Mom´s last blog ..Click for Clutter: Christmas is Coming! Edition =-.

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  20. 22

    Marinka says

    Oh, sweetie. Being a mother of a girl is so hard. We have to model good eating habits, we have to not let them get fat, we can’t let them see us diet, we have to be fucking perfect.
    We’re all just muddling along.
    .-= Marinka´s last blog ..Happy Thanksgiving. Your Manners Suck =-.

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