I’ve always been thin. Small breasts. Little waist. Booty that was slim to none. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started to fill out. Growing up a tall, skinny Black girl wasn’t great for my self-esteem at all. Middle school pretty much sucked. High school was a little bit better. By that point, I had learned how to stick up for myself when someone would call me “anorexic” or “bulimic”.
That was years ago. Even still, it took all most of my twenties to finally get to a place where I can look the mirror and appreciate what I see, and I want to make sure, if I can help it, that my Ayva doesn’t go through the same thing. See, my baby girl is going to be a string bean, just like her Mama was. I can tell already when I look at her legs, just as straight as they want to be, looking like the little brown sticks that she likes to collect.
Gosh, I love those skinny little legs.
I can’t get enough of seeing her lanky limbs sticking out from the dresses that she loves to wear so much. Especially since her favorite dresses seem to be the ones that she wore last summer. Those dresses, that last year hung well below her knees, now barely graze her lower thigh. It’s a really good thing that she likes dresses, too, because with legs the length of 6x pants and a 4T waist, shorts and pants that fit and don’t look crazy are pretty tough to find. Fortunately, you can totally be strong and wear a dress. Trust me. I do it all the time.
Ayva’s legs are so strong, too. Stronger than any 5 -year-old that I’ve ever met. She hasn’t ridden in a stroller since she was 2. She has so much stamina that she walked through Magic Kingdom at DisneyWorld for hours with no complaints at the age of 3. When we went to Disneyland last year, we tracked our activity. Seven miles she walked. SEVEN. That’s pretty remarkable, and we’re all pretty amazed at the things she can do on those lean legs.
Now that I think about it, her legs aren’t like little brown sticks, they’re like teeny tiny tree trunks!
So what’s a former thin girl to do to build her baby string bean up to be confident and feel beautiful? Simple. Remind her often that she is confident and beautiful. I’m going to let her know, early, that it’s okay to be thin. There’s a lot of support for girls who are overweight but I know from experience that there isn’t much for girls who might be underweight. I’m going to encourage Ayva and provide the resources for her to be healthy. We’ll try sports and dance so that she can continue to build her strength, and Terrence and I are committed to finding ways to be an active family.
Most importantly, though, I’m building her self worth in general. I’m teaching her how to be kind to others and confident in herself. She gets to practice those skills, safely, at home with me. Not only that, I encourage the jumping and running and let her know that her stamina and ability are to be celebrated. Later, when she’s old enough, I’ll teach her what to say to others who think they are putting her down by calling her skinny, “Talk all you want. It doesn’t bother me because I know I’ve got it going on. Skinny legs and all!”