Z has been saying something that has had us perplexed. She kept telling people when she was introduced to them that she was straight. It caught everyone by surprise because it is not something that you expect a little kid to say to you when first being introduced. She says it so proudly too. It is obvious that her meaning of the word “straight” differs from everyone else’s but the meaning was so self-evident to her that we couldn’t get her to give us a definition until this weekend.

She met my mother this weekend. Later she told me that she didn’t expect my mother to be so fat. Now, my mother and I are about the same size. Roughly size 12-14 depending on the day. Definitely not obese or anything. She was very negative about my mom’s size and then repeated proudly that she was straight. The SO started really pushing then to find out what that meant. She finally explained that “straight” means that you are straight up and down when seen from the side. There is no abdominal curve.

She is 4 and a half. She is very underweight because she flat out refuses to eat. Somehow she has gotten the idea that being straight is obviously superior to having curves. Her mother and grandmother aren’t rail thin. Exercise is an important part of both her parents’ lives but not excessively. I don’t know where she got this idea but it is extremely sad.

I remember when I was young I was in my mother’s bedroom when she was weighing herself. She made an offhand comment (talking to herself without realizing I was listening) about how she was never going to be 120 lbs again. I took from that comment that women were supposed to be 120 lbs and if you weren’t that you were a failure. I don’t think I realized that that was not true until I was in college. I spent all my high school years at about 140 lbs and thought that I was a cow. (The realization that kids can be so messed up by an offhand comment like that made me really question whether or not I ever wanted to have any kids in my life. I didn’t want to screw them up while talking to myself.)

I’m not sure how to start to counter this idea and build the idea that healthy bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

4 Replies to ““Straight””

  1. Okay.. Having been a very fussy eater most of my life… I feel I should post here. I was underweight due to not liking a lot of foods until I reached about fifteen.
    My parents didn’t make me eat cold food from previous meals because they knew it doesn’t work for a lot of people-
    Something they did for me was to have foods i liked and perhaps one i don’t like very much but could stand, and mix it in. I chose exactly how big of a portion i wanted, and was to eat all of that.
    This meant I ate less on days we had food i didn’t like, but eventually i learnt that if i didn’t want to get hungry later, i had to get bigger portions.
    They wouldn’t cook me my own meals, but they would cook any foods they knew i couldnt stand in a separate pan and i didn’t have to have it.

    This is just one method, and of course everyone’s different but it worked for me.

    ~Celestial Rose

  2. *sigh* Gosh…. The ONLY thing I can suggest about feeding a picky child, is to not put up with it. She won’t actually let herself starve at that age. But, too often parents can get lazy about feeding their children (NOT saying that you are, just what I have observed) when the kids are being picky. “ooooh, Aaron doesn’t like carrots (today!), ok…. I suppose you can skip carrots.” But then Aaron is allowed to have carrot cake later for dessert. He quickly learned (yes, one of my nephews as an example) that whether or not he REALLY “likes” carrots, he can get out of eatting the healthy version by refusing to eat them, they get thrown away, and he’s later given something considerably LESS healthy because he’s hungry but nobody wants to make another meal for him right then.

    With Tay (my 10 year old who’s rather unpicky), if she said she wanted applesauce, was given applesauce, then didn’t EAT the applesauce, the same bowl of applesauce would be covered and kept for lunch. And she went without for breakfast. At lunch, she’d be offered it again. If she still didn’t want the applesauce that she said she’d wanted at breakfast, and refused to eat it at lunch, she’d go without (not entirely without, but that’d be a little whole in her lunch menu that wouldn’t get filled with something else), and be RE-offered the applesauce at dinner. There were times where she refused it until the NEXT morning when she’d finally get it through her head that she’d keep seeing that applesauce until she ate it.

    And, my hubby was rather inclined AT FIRST to give in to her grumbles that she didn’t want this or that, and give her something else. I’ve always made it PERFECTLY clear though, that I am NOT a short order cook. In my house, if Aaron is staying over and he gets carrots at lunch (because that’s what we’re all having, for example), and he doesn’t eat them, I’ll bag those same carrots up and give them back to him for dinner, at breakfast the next morning, and keep on until he eats them.

    I’d tell Tay that while Daddy and I might get cucumber salad, she gets her applesauce because she didn’t eat it at breakfast or lunch and we won’t let it go to waste. She can have cucumber salad when she finishes her applesauce. (Just some examples, as I don’t recall the exact foods from 8+ years ago.) There have been rare exceptions I’ve made, no matter how many times she tried stuffing, she never liked it. I’d make her a tiny pot of instant mashed potatoes instead. Once I backed off about the stuffing though, she finally “learned” to like it and rarely do we set a plate in front of her now with stuffing and hear “I don’t want stuffing tonight”. (Now that we KNOW she likes it, we tell her to eat it anyway because I’m not a short-order cook!!!! *grin*)

    Oh, and another thing….. When something such as Spaghetti and garlic bread are on the menu, we would withhold the garlic bread until the spaghetti was gone. I’ve seen TOO many kids fill up on bread-stuffs, then not eat the veggie and protein portion of the meal because they ARE stuffed. Withhold the extra bread-stuffs until the rest of the meal is eaten to avoid this. My nephews and older niece (2 boys by SIL, 1 girl by MY sister) are a PRIME example of this, and it drives me nuts to watch the fights at the dinner table. *wink*

    Again, knowing that you’re NOT technically Mom (though you are an influental older female presence at this point in her life), and not knowing what your SO’s stance is on this, I can only give ideas. It’s up to y’all to take or discard as you see fit. I DO hope you find SOME way to get little Z. to eat healthfully.

  3. That fits in with what people have been trying to tell her. We try to get her to eat her food so she can grow up strong. She can identify the “good growing foods” but she still doesn’t want them.

  4. Right off I’d just discuss how beautiful the world is because there’s such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. How bland it’d be if everybody was all 5’6″ (just an “average” number, for example) and “fat” and “brown hair and blue eyes”. If everybody looked the same, how could you tell everybody apart, and wouldn’t it get kind of boring?!?! That what makes people interesting is the ways in which they are unique. Some of those ways are visible: hair color (real or fake), skin color, body shapes & sizes, piercings….. Some of those ways are invisible: particular skills and talents. But it’s the variety that makes life unique. Push the idea that variety is the spice of life!

    I’d say that if you see a pregnant woman while out with her, point out that her body needs to expand to house the baby growing in her tummy, that this isn’t fat but the baby’s house needs to get bigger as the baby gets bigger. (Providing that it’s ok with your SO that you discuss such things with his child, of course.) As she gets older, you could point out that as a girl goes from being a child to being a teenager, and then to being a woman, our bodies change shape somewhat, becoming bigger in some areas. That these curves are beautiful and are what show the world that we’re women. (Of course, taking it TOO far can imply that women with naturally boyish figures are not womanly at all, which is also a misconception, though one that our current society seems to play up. Or, if not necessarily un-womanly, than at least “straight” figures are played up as young and girlish and more desirable than “womanly” curves.)

    Of course, if the idea is getting deeply ingrained in her mind, I’d keep an eye on her attitude as she gets older, and keep in mind that it may require professional help to disabuse her of the notion that “straight” (ie: super-skinny) is best.

    ALSO, I wouldn’t tell her that you’re trying to get her to eat on the ground that she “needs more meat on her bones” or is “too skinny”. Tell her that to become a strong, healthy grown up who can (ride horses, play soccer, climb trees, or whatever physical activity she likes best), she needs good strong bones and a good strong body, and to get that good strong body & bones, she needs to eat her food. (Again, being careful not to push the “clean plate society” junk on a kid as well and foster obesity.) Appeal not to her sense of being scrawny (doesn’t work with a kid!) but to her sense of wanting to participate in her favorite activities.

    Anyway. Just some things that I see and/or would say, as the mom to a now-10 year old pubescent girl.

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