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Skinny is beautiful.

(I’d pick big, heart-shaped muscles over skinny any day.)


For those of you who lovelovelove find posts about my life-minutiae interesting this mightcould be your dream post.

For those of you who kinda dont give a shit prefer more informative, motivating missives* you may want to click away in a hurry before the navel-gazing commences.

Are both of you ready? Settled in with a high-protein snack & some water? Let’s go!

I wanna preface this all with the fact we had an amazing fabulous holiday vacation (vaycay for the Tornado from Kindergarten at least. why do we adults always have work to do?!).

The plan had been to travel, said plan was derailed by ear infections, and the result was lots and lots of much needed family time.

(here’s where I skip to the end of the story & then back to the start. here’s where we realize I may never be a fiction writer of a traditional genre)

One facet of vacation/no school I adored was our morning-time together: Ren Man typically slept in** and the Tornado & I holed up in my office, cuddled & chitchatted.

(Here’s a photo of my office wall mural. It’s definitely less an officeoffice and more cuddle/connect-central:)

One morning she wriggled up close behind me, commenced rubbing my back and said:

 Mama your body feels beautiful. It feels skinny not like mine.

(Ill give you a moment for that to sink in. Im choosing to believe it throws everyone for a sadloop as it did me.)

I’m pretty confident long-term blog readers (and those who read the blog before this one) can imagine precisely how the conversation unfolded from here.

We talked about strength, power,  and the amazing things our bodies can do.

We chatted about how beautifulbeautifulBEAUTIFUL she is from her kindlovingsillyspirit to her chocolately brown eyes.

(disclosure: when we hit that second part she quickly agreed and said: yeah that’s what I thought about me.)

And I wont lie to you: I blamed her peers.  I assumed they’d already begun planting the insidious seed of SKINNY = BETTER and THIN = PRETTY.

And I wont lie to you: I blamed the Husband who’d recently brought a scale/bodyfat analyzer into the house.***

And I wont lie to you: I in no way, shape or form placed any of the blame upon my own shoulderswhere it turned out all said blame belonged.

You see, we’ve been struggling with some, uh, digestive issues lately with the Tornado.

Without venturing too deep into TMI-territory Ive been even more vigilant than usual with her foodstuffs.  Ive focused on fiber. Ive obsessed noticed she’s been offered more junk than usual & tried to *always* counteroffer with healthy options.

And yet, while I pridefully thought of myself as Digestive Tract Fixing Mother of the Year, Id completely and utterly dropped the ball on another form of junk: MIND CANDY.

It would never enter my mind to say:

It’s vacation! let’s fill your belly with fast food & various & sundry nutritional wastelands!! it’s treat time! forget what we normally do!!! 

Yet Id done exactly that for her brain all in the name of you’re not feeling well—here’s a TREAT!

It was only after ranting at the Husband he needed to put!that!shower!stepthing!away! (oops.) I finally realized what sparked the comment.

The sentiment came from a “treat” I’d given to her and then tuned out while she devoured:****

Whether it was a result of VACATIONitis or merely my slacking off as a parent I fed her junk Id normally not and the repercussions were tremendous.

Not irreparable, thank goodness, but definitely left a mark.

On me if not on her.

I pride myself on watching her consumption not only of junkfood but of JUNK for her brain. 

Im grateful this was just a small reminder & was humbled by the fact I dropped the ball and immediately looked to place the ‘blame’ elsewhere.

Which all brings me to the end of my unplanned PSA & to my question for you & your wisdom:

If you have children do you monitor their mind junk as well as their junk food intake?

As an adult, do you find you’re happier & healthier the less brain candy YOU consume?


*missive isnt the correct word, I know. I just love me some alliteration.

**can you call 6a sleeping in? let’s call it that for blogpost purposes…

***said procurement was via a blog pitch. I turned it down & Ren Man said he was curious/would review.

****Monte Carlo is not necessarily a bad movie, but it is IMO too adult for a 6 year old.


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81 Responses to “Skinny is beautiful.”

  1. Dana @ the Big Fat Skinny says:

    This is certainly not my first time reading, but may well be my first comment and I find it necessary to leave one because, you’re right, the tornado’s thought on your body vs hers made me really sad. First of all, bravo to you for being able to say this happened and an even bigger bravo for recognizing that it could be due to something you “fed” her. In my opinion brain junk is probably more dangerous than tummy junk and I try to be as careful as one can be about what my little one sees/reads/listens to. It’s really scary to be raising a girl in this society where there are such mixed messages and so much pressure to be one thing or another. You seem to do such a beautiful job with your girl - just as with your blog and your brand - in relaying the message that it isn’t about fitting in, it’s about being you. Something tells me she is going to be just fine - or much more than that ;)
    Great post. Thank you.

  2. Hanlie says:

    You may not be a conventional writer, but you always leave me spellbound!

    I’ve been TV free for 3 years and yes, I don’t miss it at all. We watch movies all the time, but we generally choose well. I don’t read magazines and I don’t get involved in body-bashing conversations. All of this have done wonders for my self-esteem and my peace of mind.

  3. Teri says:

    Beautiful thought provoking post.
    You are a wonderful mother.

  4. Runner Girl says:

    This both terrifies me about becaoming a mom and causes me to long to be a mother.
    How can you always be vigilant?!

  5. Sallie says:

    We do not do any movies in our house for this reason.

    I don’t trust pop-culture to raise my sons or daughter.

  6. Mandy says:

    It makes me sad that even the Tornado can think like that. It’s so hard to monitor everything and I think you can only do what you can and have those conversations as often as possible.

    I echo Runner Girl - this terrifies me about being a mother (one day, not yet). How do you fight the world from making kids/girls/women/people feel inadequate about their bodies when you think you have everything covered so well??

  7. Healthy Mama says:

    Oh Mizzy I am not sure how I’d have handled the situation so I am going to have a think and return.
    I adore the way you write.

  8. Steve says:

    I used to work as a therapist with children and wanted to add the picture above speaks far more loudly than the Tornados words.

    She will be just fine!

  9. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers says:

    Oh my… these are some of the joys of parenthood I have to look forward to. ::sigh:: I’m sure you handled it wonderfully.

  10. heather @ Not a DIY Life says:

    My heart fell when I read what Tornado said, and I too immediately blamed her peers. Mind junk is just as crappy as food junk, and we do need to be aware of what are kiddos are exposed to. I try to be careful about the shows that my girlie watches, although I am certainly not perfect. Thankfully she still prefers Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, and Strawberry Shortcake. Great job figuring out where the junk was coming from. Add detective to your list of mama skills.

  11. Nicole @ Making Good Choices says:

    I don’t have kids, but I will try to moniter their brain junk as much as I can when they are of age. I love how much you reflect on things that happen as a mama (and wife, blogger, friend, etc). I would have been saddened by the tornado’s comment as well, but as usual you make it into an impromtu life lesson and I’m sure she comes out feeling way on top after she’s done with a life chat with you! You are an inspiration in so many ways!

  12. Erica says:

    Oh my gosh. I have a feeling you had a great conversation with the Tornado after that comment. I have a feeling I would (/ maybe will) freeze if Kay says that one day. I definitely plan to watch the junk going in her mouth….but I honestly hadn’t thought much about the brain junk. I will be more aware now!

  13. Izzy says:

    I am not much help with the mothering, but that picture melted my heart.

  14. Maria says:

    Has she brought it up again at all?
    When did this happen?

  15. Michelle says:

    amen…in the non-denominational sense

  16. Maria says:

    Oh and is it wrong I am curious when Ren man will review the scale? :)

  17. Kerri O says:

    Oh my.
    I am careful about the mind candy. I think some people think too careful. I see nothing wrong with allowing my little boys to be little boys and figure out who they are absent from some of the outside noise.

  18. Tia says:

    Still thinking and have no idea what I would have done.
    I really need to step back in my parenting as well and think about the junk not only in food terms.

    Thank you for this post.

  19. Maria (RealFitMama) says:

    Oh Miz…
    You have such a way with words. They appeal to the 32 year old crowd and nurture the 6 year old crowd as well.

    I have to be more mindful of what the girls watch together because of the age difference (10 and 4) but really try to make teaching opportunities out of things I am not fond of.

    I have two girls who loveloveLOVESTHEMSOME Glee. It has been one opportunity after another to discuss all kinds of issues; weight, love, race, homosexuality, fashion, possibilities for the future!!

    You’re a great mother and the Tornado is a very lucky girl! :)

  20. Nettie says:

    I love your parenting posts because they help me be a better fit-mom.

  21. Julie Lost and Found says:

    I used to be incredibly diligent with my now 20 year old about the Mind Candy, but have been slacking terribly with my two youngest. Ugh. My 8 year old watched that movie 3 times this past weekend!

  22. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    Such a thinking post Carla & I love it especially since I have 3 granddaughters although not living close… I do talk to them a lot about my love of muscles & being strong - not really about skinny BUT yes, what they see & hear from us as family & on TV & movies. When I first started reading the Miss Representation site, it really got me thinking how many places women are denigrated in a way or downgraded, I should say - not placing a I LOVE ME & I AM GOOD ENOUGH message to girls & women alike.

    THANK YOU for making us think! I am so very lucky to have found you here in blog land!

  23. kale says:

    The older she gets, the less control over EVERYTHING you have.

    I started letting go when my 25 yr. old was in kdg.

    My daughter now eats better stuff than I do and is very fit.

  24. fitnessjourney says:

    It’s so hard to keep you the mind junk at bay when my daughter so loves the Disney channel shows where every teenage girl is tiny and beautiful. Even if I banned all tv and movies she’d still see magazine covers at the grocery store and compare herself to classmates.

    I just do my best to walk the walk. She recently came into the kitchen when I was prepping the veggies/fruit for the coming week and said, Mom, you’re a good role model. I guess I did something right to elicit that response.

  25. Ana says:

    I, too, have focused a lot on no junk food and let my 7 year old girl watch too much icarly.

    Not good.

  26. Ana says:

    Also the picture she drew melted my heart.

  27. Megan - Best of Fates says:

    I think it’s fabulous you were able to track down the exact source, clearly you’re doing a great job monitoring that there’s only the one cause!

  28. Fab Kate says:

    OK, stop kicking yourself for a minute and listen.

    A little candy isn’t bad, as long as it doesn’t shape your whole diet. A little brain candy isn’t bad, as long as it doesn’t shape your entire thought process.

    You can shield your kids from TV at home, from movies, and from life… but eventually they have to see it. Kids are going to pick up that society thinks thin is beautiful, and that they are struggling to figure out if they fit with that. Rather than being shielded from those values, we need to help kids recognize and address them.

    Why do you think people think thin is beautiful? Is an important question. Maybe she doesn’t associate thin with physical beauty in a shallow sense, but with health. Or if she doesn’t, maybe she could recognize that health is the more important aspect of it all. The other thing is that she may (as so many kids do) idealize your body as an adult feminine ideal. “Thin” could be just without excess fat, firm, and strong.

    This opens up the conversation: What is it about Disney Girls that you like? Don’t like? Are their appearances more important than the things they do? What do they learn in the movies/ TV shows? What do you learn? And would that message still be the same if she had a different color hair? A big nose? A few extra pounds?

    This isn’t a setback. It’s a teaching opportunity.

  29. Morgan @ Life After Bagels says:

    please share EVERY parenting moment of your life and I will make a parenting scrap book and I will read it when I get pregnant

    okay maybe a scrap book is a little much, but many of your posts or facebook questions have prompted some good child rearing discussions between me and my boyfriend who are not getting pregnant right this second but definitely in the family planning time in our life

  30. Jennifer says:

    I recently started limiting television at our house. I’ve always watched all of the shows with the kids so that I know what is going on, but even then I kind of had the attitude of “well it is on a ‘kid’ channel so it must be ok.” WRONG! Some of those shows are just way too old for them. I’ve cut out pretty much everything on Nick besides Sponge Bob, and a lot of Disney. I’ve also instituted a new rule that the television can not be turned on until after dinner, bath, and homework. My goal is more attitude improvement. My husband and I are big TV buffs and always have been so I’ve never really been one of those “you can only watch X number of minutes a day” parents, but I’m turning into one.

  31. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    Fab Kate hit the nail on the head…beating yourself up is not only not good for you, but it’s not good for her, either. Your awareness and the lifestyle/attitude you practice is fabulous!!

    And it’s funny because I recently had a thought about you and Tornado (prior to reading this post): it’s normal for girls to compare themselves to, and model themselves after, their mothers. They want to be just like Mommy! You and Tornado are different genetically. She may never be able to to achieve your level of lean no matter what she eats or how active she is. Something to think about…

  32. Samantha says:

    I don’t have kids - but I am glad I read this, because it’s something that will stick with me for when I do.

    I do feel happier with less “brain candy” - I don’t indulge myself in celeb gossip or reality TV because I feel like it drops my IQ and makes me feel crazy!

  33. Molly Nitka says:

    I used to shove candy in my mouth and not think of the effect it would have on me. I realize I cannot eat much with out feeling like a pile. I usually stick to dark chocolate now.

  34. Donna says:

    Been through this a lot with my daughter and I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it will continue, and will likely get worse. I know, not the “Wait, I have the perfect solution to your problem!” answer you were hoping for, but I’m not one to look away from the ugly truth. I think the best thing to do is to model good behavior & habits, and let your child be exposed to that, because you’ll never be able to keep her from being exposed to the mind junk. In the end, she has to decide what’s best for her. It’s a lifelong process. You’re doing just fine, Carla.

  35. RIta says:

    A timely post for all us new kindergarten moms, all the mind candy (love that!) that we’ve carefully selected and talked her through with context and reflection is competing with peers who know brand names and use the F(at) word (at 5, heaven help us.)

    Our day will come for that too and I imagine my response will be fairly similar and hopefully as self reflective.

    For now, we’re battling the F word appearing to describe items that previously had not needed a description. It’s tough, here’s to vigilance!

  36. Shelley B says:

    Amazing where the influences pop up…and just goes to show that no matter how vigilant you are, something is gonna sneak through. The next best thing? Open conversations, which you have, with the Tornado. Because she’s going to be seeing stuff everywhere (and just wait until she starts reading magazine covers in the grocery store checkout line)!

  37. Fab Kate says:

    And I kinda wanted to add this: There was a story I heard, and I don’t remember if it was a story told by a friend or a comedienne (or a friend who was a bit of a comedienne).

    A little girl looks at her mother and says, “When I grow up I want to have beautiful, long, flat breasts just like you!”

    The point is, that the mother is often a young child’s model of beauty, regardless of their appearance. For a young child, there is no one as important, as perfect, as imitate-able as mom.

  38. MizFit says:

    And yes.
    I did not know the story and yet that is completely my goal.
    thank you.

  39. Dana says:

    I have always thought that the food choices are secondary (within reason)to self image. As long as you set a good with making good choices, kids will eventually learn how to make good choices albeit at 5, 10 or even 13. The food choice part can be undone — but eroded self image lasts a lifetime and impacts their life choices.

    I was a chubby child. Friends laugh and cannot imagine until i show them a picture a friend posted on facebook. My chubby childhood meant nothing for my adult life. As an adult, I have always healthy. But the impact of being told directly or subtlety that how you look is a measure of your self worth — impacted decisions I made and my entire life course.

  40. Tamara says:

    I think that it’s less important WHERE the idea came from and MORE important that you deal with it in a thoughtful, loving way (which you did).
    There will always be outside influences beyond your control (and the Tornado’s) control, but the ability to keep the inside influences (aka that little negative voice in our heads) on track is invaluable.
    Shes gonna have a kick ass inside her head voice!

  41. Trish @I_am_Succeeding says:

    UGH it only gets worse from the peers to the shows Its REALLY hard! I try to hard to monitor their mind junk as well as their junk food intake I fail at it often I feel :(

  42. misszippy1 says:

    Oh the timing here. Just yesterday my 7-yr. old daughter asked me if she was skinny, skinnier than her friend. I about hit the roof, but took some deep breaths instead and talked with her about how beautiful and strong she is, how much she can do with that body, etc. And told her there should never be talk like that among her and her friends.

    This is such a tough one-I really need to put more thought into it and be prepared for this issue. B/C if it’s coming up at age 7, where will we be at 14?

  43. Dayna says:

    I have no kids and do not plan for any.
    I do need to look at all the mindcandy I am consuming as it’s not good for my emotional self.

    Great post and reminder.

  44. RenMan says:

    I agree with the Fab Kate’s comments. It’s important not to read too much into the exact words a 6 year old uses. The Tornado was recently going on and on about how she wanted a doll with “blond” hair. When we asked why she wanted “blond” hair instead of a doll with her (very pretty) black hair, she answered, “I mean like this (straight) not curly.” When we pointed out that was called “straight” hair not “blond” hair, she responded, “I call it ‘blond.’”

  45. Miz says:

    Points upward while laughing. Reason #729423 why I love age 6.

  46. RenMan says:

    I should clarify that I don’t mean we shouldn’t take comments like this seriously. Just that sometimes kids don’t mean what we think they mean and we might overreact when its really a simple misunderstanding. There are no shortages of “teaching moments” in our house!

    • Wanda says:

      I like that phrase of teaching moments. I’m not proud of the fact I usually freak out at these times and if I could view them in that way it could help.

      I love the picture.

  47. Bari says:

    I struggle so much to not project my weight/body image issues on my 14 year old daughter. She’s between sports right now and is commenting about getting fat because she’s watching her 6-pack go away. She’s 5’6″ and about 120 pounds. About as far from “fat” as you can get. It scares me what the media, friends, and our own issues can potentially do to a kid.

  48. Deb says:

    Like at least one commentor above, I think you need to remember that as the Tornado expands her solo-time exposure to the world, she will get influences from everywhere. As hard as it is, your job as a parent is first to let her go, and second to try and direct her reactions to the influences.

    I know, the hard part for you will be letting her separate. But it’s exercising new parenting muscles and I’m sure eventually you’ll be goodgood with this.

    I also know that you will be skilled with the talking about reactions, examining part.

  49. Yvonne says:

    My best parenting tip is just listen.

    I love your office mural. It’s beautiful.

  50. messymimi says:

    We talk about not feeding the body trash, and not feeding the brain that way, either.

  51. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    Reading this reminds me why I am sometimes glad I only have boys! I can only imagine what I would have done as the mom of a girl, with all my own self confidence and food issues. Eek.

  52. Aimee says:

    No television here period.

  53. Aimee says:

    (Didn’t mean to submit.)
    We will do very few and carefully selected movies and that’s it.

    I don’t miss television at all.

    I read.

  54. lindsay says:

    i read this post 2x. Every word. I found myself going through the emotions with you. And you know what? What a blessing to be reminded of how to nourish our children’s minds. I know that we often focus on the body but a child’s mind needs the same if not more nourishment. Agreed!

    You are one wise woman. Thank you for sharing.

  55. Loretta says:

    I don’t have any children, so you have my upmost respect for how committed you and RenMan are in building a strong and solid foundation for the Tornado! I have no doubt she will have a solid and healthy self-image… that she HAS a good self-image. I know you guys will do your best to keep it that way, in spite of societal influences. Loved that drawing, that spoke volumes!

  56. Roz@weightingfor50 says:

    Tornado is SUCH a lucky girl to have you as her Mom!!!!

  57. Chasing Joy says:

    I don’t have kids yet so I can’t speak to that. But isn’t it amazing how fast our minds absorm brain junk food that eventually lands on our self estem and often our hips.

  58. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    It’s so hard to know what to address and know what’s just a fleeting thought in a child’s mind and what needs to be “rectified.”

    Hmm, it works the same for a 53-year old’s mind, too. Which is why she no longer reads fashion/fitness magazines and will soon quit watching HGTV. But never the Food Network. :)

  59. Maria says:

    I’m wondering if she’s brought this up to you again, Miz?

    • MizFit says:

      she’s not brought it up again and neither have I (Im REALLY working to do the “explain how the chair applies to her and not how the chair was made” approach. You *know* Ive longed to bring the topic back up :-) ).
      Im waiting to see if she ever does…

  60. Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health says:

    Wow, this is my first time reading your blog (I’m loving it btw!) and what a great post to read. I don’t have children but I think the way that you addressed the situation was awesome. I know that if I ever have little girls I want to always tell them how beautiful they are and try to get them to understand that skinny and thin do not necessarily equate to beauty!

  61. Sagan says:

    That is so sad. How terrible is it that kids get these ideas into their heads at such a young age?

    It’s crazy too how often things we say or do flippantly can have a major impact, especially on kids.

    Good that it sparked a long conversation with you about what’s beautiful - it’s certainly better that she’d say a comment like that to YOU since you can help her see a different perspective, rather than someone else :)

  62. Dr. J says:

    I don’t know. It seems to me that you worked very hard to be in the competition fitness shape you are in. That is not something that just comes with the territory. You’ve set an example for your daughter and she probably aspires to be like mom. That will take work on her part too, although I suppose I’d want her to wait a while before doing that.

  63. Lori says:

    That made me sad that she thought that. Everything in the world makes an impression on kids (and adults, too).

    I don’t have kids, but I try to be careful about what I say to my nieces about body stuff because they do hear what I say. They now know I lost a lot of weight and ask me about it sometimes.

  64. Kathryn says:

    wheat germ - fibre bulks you up. wheat germ lets you go! ;)

  65. quix says:

    Wow - BRAIN junk food. Hadn’t even THOUGHT about that. *mindblown*

    Although my hubbs will point out that I get… erm… b#$@hy when I watch a few America’s Next Top Models…

  66. Kat says:

    Tornado is lucky to have parents as aware as you both are. I love the pic with the heart muscles.

  67. Coco says:

    When the Bachelor first came on and my (then high school aged) daughter would watch it, I made sure she understood that that is no way to find a husband. (Yep, that’s the best I can come up with!) Well, wait. We did have shows that we deemed “inappropriate.” It’s hard though-even shows we loved (like Friends) sounded inappropriate to my mom ears when we watched with pre-teens.

  68. Coco says:

    Oh, my husband hates the fitness magazines. He thinks they are mind junk for *me* setting unrealistic expectations with their full bikini shots of uber-slim models on the covers. (Although not all fitness magazines do that)

  69. Denise @ Do you have that in my size??? says:

    As the mother of a 19 year old, impressionable college student, I worry every day about what she’s seeing and hearing about body shape and size. She is gorgeous and confident (most of the time) but one little snark from her brother and cousin about her being “fat” and I hear her 13 year old voice in my head saying, “Mama, am I fat?” It’s not just TV or magazines or movies, my fellow mamas, it’s also their peers who might not be raised with the same strong, fierce dedication to loving who you are rather than the exact proportions of your body. (Or what you wear. Don’t get me started on, “Why can’t I wear that?” battles!)

  70. joy says:

    My children are grown now and I failed at watching what they ate and watched on TV. Back then, it did not seem to be a problem. Augh! I wish I could take back that time in their lives and do a better job.

    Great thing is, I have 2 grand babies and I get a second chance. I am proud to say, I have not taken them to any fast food places or give them too much sugar. Definitely monitor what they hear and see on TV.

    Stay focused!

  71. Jenn (gh) says:

    Aside from one year where the place we lived got it for free, we haven’t had tv since we’ve been married. Actually I haven’t had it since high school and know (along with my lack of mag subscriptions) that it contributes to my healthy body image and the nomadic lifestyle I now lead.) The media stinks on so many levels…encouraging discontentment in many ways from body image to materialism.

  72. Charlotte says:

    I’ve said it before but you are one of the best moms I know and the fact that the Tornado is both a) astute enough to recognize and verbalize such feelings and b) comfortable enough with you to share them is evidence to me that she will be just fine. She will be more than fine. And she’ll get that from you:)

  73. Carla says:

    I think you handled that situation very well. As a mom of three boys ages 14, 12 and 10, I am very careful about the junk that goes into their heads as well as their bodies!

  74. Maggie @ Looking For My Feet says:

    Great post! I think you handled it all very well. I’ve been dealing with body image talks with my 9 year old lately too!

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