Once upon a time, everything your body did was magic to you.
My six-year-old daughter weighs around 75 pounds. Weight, while arbitrary, is a growth and development marker for kids, so pediatricians pretty much insist on having this information. She weighed almost 11 pounds when she was born; things have progressed as I’d expect. She was bigger than all the babies her age. She’s bigger than almost all the kids her age.
The last time she was at the pediatrician (which was a while ago because she absolutely loses her shit if we even go near the office), the doctor, one we’d never seen before (which, by the way does NOT help with her physician-related panic disorder), started to talk to me about how she was off the growth chart — and not in a good “wow your kid is sure healthy!” way.
Our pediatrician (or the one we saw that day, anyway) is a tiny Chinese woman. She is at least a few inches shorter than me and probably half my size. And at 75 pounds, Ella is ¾ her size. I’m not saying the doctor isn’t objective, they have a standard growth chart they use to formulate these statements, I’m just saying growth charts aren’t one size fits every kid. Also maybe Ella just looks like a giant to her?
When I shut her down with, “Ella’s healthy. She eats a variety of foods and moves her body,” she held my gaze, pen hovering over the spot in the chart where they write “this kid is too fat,” or whatever descriptor they use. Ella was too hysterical to hear any of this, which is basically the only benefit of a child screaming bloody murder.
A few weeks after hysterical pediatrician appointment, Ella got new shiny red shoes. And a few weeks after that, she was brokenhearted at the thought that someday she’d outgrow those shoes.
I can’t blame her. They are pretty magnificent.
To avoid having to get rid of the shoes, she decided that she didn’t want her feet to grow. Feet that don’t grow can wear the same shoes forever, or at least until they fall apart.
I could have corrected her, telling her that she can’t stop her body from growing, but I didn’t need to because she came to her own conclusion pretty quickly. “Oh. I’m not in control of my feet, huh? They are going to grow if they want to. I just have to see what happens.”
Leave it to a six-year-old to remind us how we’ve perverted the most simple of processes: being alive.
Adults complicate everything.
If you’re reading this, your heart is beating; it will do that for you at least 115,000 times today. You’re probably breathing. That will happen about 25,000 times today without you telling your lungs to do anything. Your body is converting whatever you ate this morning (raisin bran, in my case) into glucose, so your heart can do the beating thing and your lungs can do the breathing thing and all you have to do is sit around and binge-watch The OA on Netflix and eat whatever the next thing your body is going to turn into energy.
So why do you hate your body?
Your body shows up for you everyday. Why do you want to mold it and change it and tell it it’s ugly or fat or saggy or substandard. Why do you hate your stretchmarks? Why is your belly, deflated after childbirth, the object of such loathing? Why are the breasts that fed your kids not enough for you how they are (even if how they are is a tube sock with a marble in the end)? The varicose veins on your legs got there because you’re walking around. Your wrinkles are there because you’ve lived long enough to get some.
If you’re fat, it’s because your body turned some of what you ate into storage, just in case there’s a famine or something. It’s doing you a solid by stocking up so you don’t starve. And you’re mad at it. For what?
It’s just doing what it’s meant to do. Quit being such a shit to it.
Once upon a time, everything your body did was magic to you. Your feet grew out of your shoes. Your tummy rounding with the good food you put in it. You got taller.
You weren’t born hating your body. Someone taught you that.
Learn something new.