The Short of It
The way this mom handled her daughter's body image issues was pretty amazing. And the way her kid responded was even better.
Glennon Doyle Melton had no clue what to do when her 10-year-old daughter, Tish, came to her and asked why she wasn't as skinny as the other girls at school.
The author and mom was shocked and devastated because she had started raging a war upon her own body at the very same age.
"Ten is when I decided there was something wrong with me and became bulimic," Melton revealed in a raw, emotional piece for Huffington Post. "My life became a total sh*t storm for the next 20 years. And as I sat on that bed with my baby, I swear to you I became 10 again. It all rushed back and I froze. I just froze. I could not think of one helpful word to say. I kept repeating this in my head: This can't be happening. No, no, no. NO. NoNONONO."
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But it was. So over the next two hours, Melton talked to Tish about everything from the misleading messages girls get about staying small and quiet, to how wonderful it is to have a body, and what exactly bodies are actually for. "I did my best," Melton wrote. "The truth is—I'm still learning what it means to be a woman and how to live comfortably inside my body."
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The next day, the pair went to a bookstore, where they came face-to-face with a magazine rack filled with covers of similar-looking women—blonde, thin, objectified. "My insides caught fire," Melton recalled. "So I walked over and said, 'Confusing isn't it? What do you think they're trying to tell you about what it means to be a successful woman? Do you believe them? Then I picked up a magazine and we looked at it together. I said, 'Tish, what do you think women's bodies are for?'"
Her answer? "Writing, running, hugging."
Later that day after they were home, Tish brought her mom a petition to sign. "Dear World," it began. "This is a petition to show that I, Tish Melton, strongly feel that magazines should not show that beauty is most important on the outside. It is not. I think magazines should show girls who are strong, kind, brave, thoughtful, unique, and show women of all different types of hair and bodies. All women should be treated EQUALLY."
Then Melton's whole family signed it.
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At just 10 years old, this little girl already gets that we are more than just our bodies, which is pretty amazing. So major kudos to her mama for opening up a line of communication and keeping it real by being so honest about her own struggle. She could've just simply brushed off her daughter's insecurity, but instead, she chose to use it as an opportunity to educate and help her grow, which is an important reminder that if we don't give our kids the response they're seeking, they'll probably go and find someone else who will.
"When I was little, I looked at the one size fits none standard of beauty and thought: 'Damn. There's something wrong with me,'" Melton wrote. "Tish will look at the same crap and say: 'Damn. There's something wrong with THAT.'"