I was driving down the road the other day and I saw something that had me super confused. It was a giant billboard of a beautiful, blonde woman showing off her flat, tanned stomach. On the billboard was the question “How did this mother of three get high school skinny?” And of course there was a business name and a 1-800 number to call. High school skinny? What does that mean? My brain was flooded with all sorts of conflicting emotions. At first I thought the obvious – How DOES a mother of three get high school skinny? Is it a diet pill, an exercise regime, or some kind of metabolism boosting beverage? I immediately started judging myself for only giving birth to one child and not being as skinny as I was in high school. Then I began to wonder why a mother of three should be as skinny as she was in high school. In high school we are still considered teenagers. We are not adults yet and our bodies are not yet designed to act as adults. It’s also known that metabolism decreases with age. It’s ludicrous to say that any mother needs to look like a 17 year-old.
I am in my late 30’s and am a single mother of a three year-old daughter. I am working to get back a career so that I can support the two of us. I have a lot going on in my life as I try to set a positive example for her. I want her to see me as a mother who is smart, capable and confident. What kind of message would I be sending my child if I were to be aspiring to an ideal that is unhealthy and unrealistic. I should hope that I have goals in my life that extend beyond my physical appearance. I don’t want my child growing up with the idea that her worth as a woman is determined by how thin she is.
I realize that companies are going to forever be selling products to have us believe that they have the magic potion of how to achieve the impossible. That is not going to change; however, I think that it is up to us to pass on to our children the more important aspects of what it means to be a successful adult. And when I ask myself what do I want for my daughter, it has nothing to do with her physical appearance. I want my child to be happy and fulfilled by who she is on the inside, to have a sense of herself, and a respect for others. So I am actually happy for that silly billboard with the skinny mother of three because it has allowed me to think about the messages I want to pass on to my child. Now maybe I’ll have more awareness of how I treat and accept my own body because I know the most important message that she will receive is the one she receives from me.