Truth and Drumsticks

{By Pauline Campos}

“It’s time to exercise, baby,” I call to Buttercup. “Did you want to play or workout with Mama?”‘

She’s in the playroom she has dubbed her “magical land,” but immediately joins me at my side and waits for the DVD to cue up. “Are we going to get healthy and strong?”

I smile. “Exactly.”

When I was a baby, my thighs were so chubby that one of my aunts used to eat them like drumsticks. It’s a story I heard often when I was growing up, usually told with the requisite giggles from my mother and a pinch on my legs from whomever else was within reach. I thinned out as I grew, but I never thought myself skinny. Instead, “big” was how I classified my body. “Big” because I was five feet tall at eight years old. The same height as my mother and almost every other adult woman in my family. “Big” as in not dainty with curves that snuck up on me when I was 12 and muscle definition that would have put me in the “athletic” category. But that word didn’t exist in the Spanglish craziness my family resided in. Instead, children were scolded for not finishing what was on their plate and reprimanded for needing to watch what they were eating, usually in the same breath.

I remember very clearly the day my father noticed my new set of hips. I weighed 156 pounds and stood 5’6” tall. I wore a size 10 and only now realize I only thought that was a bad thing because my mother never shut up about the size 6 she could still squeeze into after five kids. If I could wake up with that body today?

A’ye, M’ijita.

My father, who stood no taller than me, pinched the curve of my hip.

“You need to lose some weight.”

I started making myself throw up after watching a news special about a woman caring for eating disordered girls in her revolutionary treatment center. The point of the special was to enlighten and educate on the dangers of eating disorders and the needs of those suffering. I took it as a how-to manual.

Sometimes I wonder if my actions are the cause of the body I see in the mirror today. The hypoactive thryroid. The polycystic ovarian syndrome. The number on the scale. I was skinny before when I thought I was fat. Just because I was the only set of ethnic hips in the sea of curve-less white wonders I went to school with, I thought that meant I needed to better control what I was eating. And because I had failed at being an anorexic previously, the consolation prize was closet bulimia. If I didn’t have the control to not eat, I could at least force my body to get rid of the evidence.

I should have just opened my eyes.

My daughter is three and often confused for a five-year-old. She’s built like her father’s side of the family; tall and lean. My nickname for her is “Little.” And I skip the word “fat” when it’s included in any of the books I read to her.

“She’s so big for her age,” strangers often say when they realize how young she actually is. I always smile and gently correct them, whether or not she is paying attention.

“Yes,” I say, “She’s very tall.”

We eat clean; no processed sugar, no processed foods, and are gluten free, to boot. For dessert she’ll choose watermelon over an ice cream sundae. (At least for now.) And because I can’t control what the rest of the world says or what she will hear, I try to side step any of the emotional triggers adults verbalized when I was a kid.

If she refuses to eat a meal after two bites of food, instead of force feeding, I simply ask if she would like a cookie. If she says yes, I tell her that she has room for more of her meal first. If she says no, I believe her and take her plate away. I never criticize my own body in front of her. And I never diet. Instead, we all eat what’s best for our bodies.

And exercise?

Maybe the truth behind the sweat and the time commitment is that I would like to lose a few more pounds and firm up my muffin-top belly. Maybe I’d like to feel as beautiful as my husband tells me I am (and sometimes, I do). But I’ll be damned if I say any of that out loud to a three-year-old who thinks it’s funny to arch her back and stick her belly out after a good meal.

We are exercising to get healthy and strong.

And one of these days, after saying it enough to her, maybe I will believe that myself.


Pauline Campos writes the personal blog Aspiring Mama, edits at BookieBoo.com and rocks a wikid awwsome #mexifro. Subscribe to Aspiring Mama, and follow Pauline on twitter.

Story pick by Shannon / Mr Lady

Comment with Facebook

30 Comments to “Truth and Drumsticks”

  1. Mr Lady says:

    There is gorgeousness today on @storybleed, from @aspiringmama http://t.co/hmIB7ZmP

    • Ryan
      Twitter:
      says:

      Yep Pauline was part of getting me to my first bgleogr event a few years ago. I was terrified but what a tribe we have hear. And Pauline is a big reason for it existing. We’re all going to miss her!

  2. I am honored to have an essay close to my heart published on @storybleed today. Mothers. Daughters. Our bodies. http://t.co/P03cpEEU #fb

  3. There is gorgeousness today on @storybleed, from @aspiringmama http://t.co/hmIB7ZmP

  4. HeiddiZ says:

    I am honored to have an essay close to my heart published on @storybleed today. Mothers. Daughters. Our bodies. http://t.co/P03cpEEU #fb

  5. fridita (just_a_grrl)
    Twitter:
    says:

    This essay is beautiful on so many different levels….Thank you so much for this one.

  6. Adam says:

    You’re too awesome.

    Stop that.

    Adam

  7. http://t.co/5rJi2a5K I'd love for you to stop by @storybleed to read my essay. Thank you.

  8. another one crossed off my #writer dream bucket list: my essay pubbed on @storybleed http://t.co/5rJi2a5K I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  9. another one crossed off my #writer dream bucket list: my essay pubbed on @storybleed http://t.co/5rJi2a5K I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  10. HeiddiZ says:

    another one crossed off my #writer dream bucket list: my essay pubbed on @storybleed http://t.co/5rJi2a5K I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  11. Truth and Drumsticks, on body image, our daughters, & not criticizing our own bodies by @aspiringmama http://t.co/9YqzcdfC

  12. Truth and Drumsticks, on body image, our daughters, & not criticizing our own bodies by @aspiringmama http://t.co/9YqzcdfC

  13. Truth and Drumsticks, on body image, our daughters, & not criticizing our own bodies by @aspiringmama http://t.co/9YqzcdfC

  14. NOLAnotes says:

    Truth and Drumsticks, on body image, our daughters, & not criticizing our own bodies by @aspiringmama http://t.co/9YqzcdfC

  15. Galit Breen says:

    A truly thoughtful post about girls & dieting & body image by @aspiringmama on @StoryBleed – http://t.co/YWex3KSF

  16. Mr Lady says:

    We are just so proud to feature @aspiringmama on @storybleed this week. http://t.co/hmIB7ZmP

  17. Becca says:

    We are just so proud to feature @aspiringmama on @storybleed this week. http://t.co/hmIB7ZmP

  18. Nicole says:

    Wow your post is amazing and very interesting. Thanks for posting this one.

  19. I'm honored. Thank you so much. RT @mrlady: We are just so proud to feature @aspiringmama on @storybleed this week. http://t.co/5rJi2a5K

  20. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline, it was a nice article. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous post.

  21. Argie says:

    When I was in my toddler stage, my relatives usually pinch my thighs! They say it was so irresistible and giggled in pinching my chubby thighs ! I found myself screaming cause I’m so afraid about the thought that they might bite me!

  22. Michelle says:

    What a lovely post, I really enjoy reading this one… Truth and drumsticks, great!

  23. Charlenevans09 says:

    Thanks for this post Pauline.. It’s nice to read how you bond with your kid. I have to follow you on twitter too!
    Charlenevans09 recently posted..gloves

  24. Born27 says:

    Holy crap! That’s pretty amazing. Your kid is so cute! Little lovely sporty!

  25. [...] I will forever be proud of. I’ve been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I’ve got going on over here on this little ol’ [...]

  26. pauline
    Twitter:
    says:

    Mathew, thank you for reading and for commenting!
    pauline recently posted..A Celebration of Not Knowing

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only. No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge