Tainted love

I loved my Gram with all my heart.  She didn’t really know me, and I didn’t really know her, but we had the kind of relationship in which we just loved each other regardless.  Toward the end of her life she was in a wheelchair, and she’d beckon to me to bend down to her, and when I did she’d whisper “You’re my favorite, but don’t tell anyone.”  When she died I didn’t go to the funeral because there was no way in hell I could have handled it.  She died more than ten years ago, but I still think of her often.  Less often, I think about my first memory of her.

I as five or six, and at my uncle’s pool.  I was wearing an awesome bathing suit covered in polka dots and watermelons, and was having a blast.  Now, when I was little, my body was an odd shape: very skinny and long limbs, but a big huge belly.  I was walking across the patio with my belly hanging out, and my Gram said, “One day you won’t want that to show.”  I knew exactly wha she was talking about, and I sucked in my belly.  I’ve literally been sucking it in ever since.  I didn’t realize this until  I was about twenty and I was at a house party.  Dozens of women were stomping and dancing along to the band, and I noticed that they all let their stomachs hang out.  Women with little bellies, women with big guts.  All completely relaxed.  I weighed 116lbs and kept my stomach held in at all times.  I’ve been holding my stomach in since I was little, all because of one off hand comment.

I love my gut now.  Like, really really, I walked past a mirror a few days ago and noticed it, and I rubbed it and smiled and thought “So cute!”  But I’m still always holding it in.  What we say to people matters.  What we say to children matters.  Please be aware of how you talk to children.  Don’t body shame.  Don’t teach them to police and shame their bodies.  All bodies are good bodies. All bodies should be loved.  We shouldn’t teach and encourage people to make themselves smaller their whole lives.

I loved my Gram with my whole heart.  I miss her and her love so very much.  I wish I didn’t have a memory of her teaching me to be ashamed of my body.

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