4 year old Body Image

This morning I got up and told the kids to get dressed.  As usual.

I fed Beth, changed her diaper, got her dressed, made her bed and mine, and then went in to check on Faye. I found her sitting on her bed in her underwear, poking and pulling on her skin with a discomfited look upon her face.  With a huge sigh, she looked up at me and said morosely "Mom, I can't ever be Rapunzel."

I asked her why not and she said "Because I'm not skinny like Rapunzel."

My heart plummeted into my feet when she said that. I thought back to my language, as I am very careful not to talk poorly about my body around her, and I tried to figure out where on earth she would have heard language like that.  I then did some quick calculating on what I could say, and sat down on the bed next to her.  I told her that her body is perfect,because it is healthy and lets her run and climb trees and color and do all the things she loves to do.  

I told her that she is exactly where a 4 year old girl should be.  We then talked about how amazing our bodies are.  She had fallen and gotten a bloody scrape yesterday and today it was nearly gone. How wonderful our bodies are that they can heal like that!  We also talked about what we do to keep our bodies healthy and why it is important to be healthy.  And then we got silly.  I asked her if she thought I would love her if she was purple with six feet and green splotches on her body.

She shook her head no.

I tucked her morning halo hair behind her ear and gave her a tight squeeze.  I told her I would still love her.  I would love her if she was as tall as a skyscraper or as small as an ant.  I told her I would love her no matter what she looks like, and all that matters is she be the best Faye she knows how to be, and that will be good enough for me.

I hate that my tiny daughter, so fresh on her journey in life is already worrying about things like this. It breaks my heart and sickens me. I try so hard to be an example of not worrying about my body image and instead loving my body for what it can do.  The other day Keith and Faye were playing and Keith said "it's because you are too fat." talking about squeezing into a hole of some sort.  Faye burst out in tears when he said that.  It made me so sad.

So today, Faye was my little shadow.  She helped me clean, she showered with me, we did our hair together, I let her wear a little makeup as today was training for becoming a "big woman" as she puts it.  We baked bread, took care of the baby, primped right before Daddy got home (brushed teeth and sprayed a quick spritz of body spray),went to the market, made dinner and generally did everything together. She was so excited, and I hope that she will take this day and remember dress size doesn't matter in the scheme of happiness.

Speaking of dresses, though, our dear friend Shem's mother made Faye two beautiful dresses.  

Faye has not taken them off except to sleep since she got them.  One is white eyelet and beautiful, the other is the most perfect play dress, complete with swoon-worthy bloomers to go beneath it.

After our chat this morning about how to be happy with who we are, I went in to my room to straighten things up and Faye followed me shortly after.  She was very obviously over her little meltdown and told me that she was now a princess doctor who was ready to take my temperature and help me get better from some made up disease I had.

I was impressed with how resilient she is.  I am so glad she got over her sadness about never being Rapunzel.

Besides, a princess doctor is much better than Rapunzel any day.


Susan Anderson said…
Good mothering! I think you responded perfectly, Amy.

Em said…
max is totally aware of this stuff too. crazy how they are already noticing by 4. way to go mama.

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