On Saturday morning I was playing with Dulcie and her many and varied plastic people and animals. These days playing with Dulcie generally involves her instructing me to "Pretend she..." or to "Talk her in a girl's voice" etc. Well, Saturday's game was pretend the ponies keep getting stuck in various parts of the barn then rescue one another with pipe cleaners (you know, whatever floats her four-year-old boat) but then Dulcie picked up one pony and said, "Pretend she's not eating very much because she's a girl so she doesn't want to be fat." Oh dear. My jaw fairly hit the floor and I wondered where I had gone so wrong in her upbringing. We had the chat about how some people, whether boys or girls, are thinner, some are fatter, the important thing is to be healthy etc. But I'm pretty sure that chat is not enough to turn the tide of ideas really. The poster above is one I had in my bedroom in the mid 1990s. Seems as though not a lot has changed. Ugh.
I should add that Dulcie is really a great eater, has a good appetite, a varied diet and will try pretty much anything these days. She certainly adores most unhealthy food (especially if it contains sugar) but loves a lot of super-healthy stuff too. The other day I realised that she had eaten ten different fruits and vegetables by lunchtime, and she's forever pilfering raw veg from under my nose while I'm prepping dinner. All of which makes it doubly terrifying that she has somehow formed the opinion that girls need to be thin and that they achieve that by not eating...and by the tender age of four!
I am always trying to lose weight these days/months/years and, even though I'm doing it in a fairly balanced and healthy way and because it has been recommended for the good of my wonky heart, I'm worried I could be giving her an unhealthy relationship with food. Losing weight (when you're actively trying to) does make you feel really good, but maybe I should be making more of an effort to hide that side of it from Dulcie? I guess I could make more of an effort to focus on the positive/pro-food side - that eating healthy food is making me feel strong and full of energy, as opposed to avoiding unhealthy food making me feel less fat and lethargic. But I'm pretty sure I do that most of the time anyway (otherwise why would Dulcie flex her biceps every time she ate lentils?!) so my feeling would be that she's getting these opinions from the world at large and I really can't protect her from that too much.
I was worrying about teenage-type trials and tribulations when I was pregnant (much to the amusement of friends with teenage children) but I never imagined I'd have to deal with such complicated issues so early on. Parenthood is an absolute minefield at times.
If anyone reading this would like that poster (it's vintage, dahlinks!) then just let me know and I'd be happy to pop it in the post to you. It does have some faint scratch marks on it (my cat Elvis used to scratch it to wake me up) but is otherwise in fairly good condition, no holes etc. If I remember rightly, it came from a free Body Shop magazine or something? First come first served.