This country, boy I tell ya… we make it hard on our girls. I can’t speak to other countries’ culture surrounding beauty and acceptance because I’ve only lived here. I’ve only been a girl and a woman here, and I’ve only ever been Plus Size.
My daughter has always been tall. Always. She was tall when she was born, and every milestone, she was in the 95th or higher percentile for height. She’s also proportional, so she had parallel height and weight charts, thank goodness. There was never an issue with her above average, above age-group size until now. She’s 9. She is prepubescent so she has gotten a little thicker around the middle. She has been in lockdown like the entire world, so she’s a little thicker around the middle like the rest of us. But now is when the war begins. The war against Body Image.
Thankfully for my daughter, she has a mom who fully understands the complication of being a tall, strong, sturdy girl. We grow up to help our partners move couches up stairs. We grow into bodies that can lift and run and jump and dance and move. I have never lied about my own body image with her, I have had to be careful about how I treat myself and speak to myself and for that I’m actually very grateful.
Recently we have had a hard time finding clothes that fit my kiddo. It doesn’t help that she has very particular sensitivity to certain things like fabric, and seams and fit – tight vs. loose – but in general, things no longer fit. The issue is that she is now technically out of “kids” sizes, but she’s still a kid. She’s only 9! It’s summer now and we have a couple of trips coming up that will require a bathing suit.
Y’all, when I tell you the headache that has come with this, you would not believe me. Like her momma, my girl cannot wear a one piece because she’s tall. We have been on the hunt for a two piece since it’s the most forgiving, but sizing into adult land means padding and bras and underwire. …. for a 9 year old…. Ridiculous. The only thing standing between my daughter and a fun summer in the water is a frigging bathing suit. Along with this hunt could be a TON of frustration and self-loathing and anxiety. I have worked vvvvveeeerrrrryyyy hard to try and keep a positive spin on things, but these stores and society’s expectations are making it very hard.
I get that mass production has to appease the general population. I do. But for those of us who live outside the “normal boundaries”, there is no option. It’s not like we can squeeze into a smaller option. My size 12.5 foot cannot be jammed into a size 10 just because that’s what tops the “normal range” of adult women feet. Also, losing weight will make zero difference on the size of my boats. 12.5 is unheard of for women yet, when I go to Nordstrom Rack and look in the very small limited section, guess what? It’s usually sold out of the cute stuff… why? Because we DO exist! Shocker.
For my kiddo, I found a great article that lists some stores where we may find a bathing suit and also some insight into what i’m talking about : more-love.org.
I have shopped at Justice in the mall before for my kiddo and thought their stuff was cute. When I found them on this list, I was skeptical about what would be offered.
I was FLOORED to see cute suits, but more importantly, they were being modeled by size appropriate, age appropriate girls! This was SOOOOO fantastic to see! My daughter will grow up in a world where yes, she will have to defend her body type against peers, doctors, and herself from time to time, but to see herself represented is game changing. If I had seen these kids when I was my daughter’s age, I would have known I was not an alien. I would have believed when adults told me I was pretty and worthy, I would have hated my own body a little less.
I showed my daughter the suits. She liked them. I pointed out how strong and pretty and perfectly normal all the girls looked in their suits. When the style she wanted was not available because it was sold out, I pointed out to her “Do you know what that means? It means there’s that many girls out there who fit that size and wanted that same suit.” my daughter exclaimed, “Yay! I’m normal!”
It breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time. My daughter will never be tiny, she will likely never be fragile or small. We love that about her. My daughter can be strong, healthy, active, athletic and confident and she will grow up in a world with Lizzo and Melissa McCarthy and Aidy Bryant. She will see herself in social media where other funny, talented, smart women will just Be. She will feel that there are places for her to fit into this world, not because she has to force it, but because it is regular and normal and perfectly acceptable. Being outside the norm is a gift. It’s a gift only we get to experience. We get set apart, we are seen a lot of the time just because of who we are. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing, it truly makes us special. Unfortunately it usually takes becoming an adult to really appreciate and understand these things are a positive.
Disclaimer: In my head this article was poignant and funny and charming. In reality I was writing this with literally NONSTOP interruptions, so take it for what it’s worth. *engage charming filter*