I would be marketed by the local matchmaker as “sturdy breeding stock” if my ancestors (this sounds like the wrong word, since I actually knew these people) hadn’t decided to quit being peasants and leave Eastern Europe in the luggage compartment of rickety ships around the turn of the last century, but alas, my great grandparents courageously left everything and everyone they knew to come to an unfamiliar country in order to avoid getting their tails kicked on a regular basis by Cossacks and make their way in America. They did so without being able to Tweet about the lack of room service (or flushable potties) in the steerage compartment or being able to post selfies on Instagram or FaceTime everyone they knew along the way.
And so, my great-grandparents found themselves here, where they had my grandparents, who found this country to their liking, and then my parents, and now me, and now my children. And here we are staying. There is much to recommend this country, and I am staying in this land of freedom and plenty for more reasons than simple inertia.
It’s odd, though, that what would once have been considered wide, desirable birthing hips; large, strong hands for efficient dispatch of domestic chores; and a layer of padding showing health and access to relative wealth and good nutrition is, in this country, not something any woman wishes for.
Nope, they all want to be my daughter. Heck, *I* want to be my daughter. At the ripe old age of 10, she would rather have oral surgery than eat a vegetable. She likes fruit, but she likes Taco Bell Freezes even more. She constantly carb loads like she’s training for a marathon though, if it isn’t a day she has karate, her most aerobic activity is rolling off the sofa to get her iPod charger. Granted, she strength trains quite a bit by toting around a seven-thousand pound backpack, but she’s happy watching Netflix or reading a book and not moving more than is strictly necessary.
And yet. And yet. She is very tall for her age – about five one or five two, which puts her an entire head taller than most of her classmates, and taller than some of her teachers. Despite being about five inches shorter than I am, her hips line up with mine, meaning her legs are disproportionately long. And thin. And muscular. With the recent changing of the season came the changing of the wardrobe, and she recently went to put on a pair of jeans only to find out that not a single pair in her closet fit her newly bloomed hips. Fab. U. Lous.
So off we went to buy her a few pairs of jeans. We discovered rather quickly that a size one fit her perfectly. Yes, a size one. I purposely typed out the spelling of the word one rather than type the numeral to make sure we were all clear that I didn’t accidentally leave off the other digit in the number. When she stepped out of the dressing room, with the denim hugging the length of her legs and skimming over the curve of her hips, my heart flipped over and lay dead in my chest. What I wanted to say was, “I’m sorry. Those jeans look too good on you. Let’s see if they have any burlap sacks.” What I did say was, “Those seem to fit.” And they did. There was nothing objectively wrong with them. They were a modest cut and standard fare for a ten year old girl. And I don’t want her to feel like her beauty is something she has to hide. Goodness knows if I looked anything like that I’d be posting selfies on any allowable internet site and decorating my living room in self-portraits. I mean really – even by ridiculous unattainable supermodel standards, her body is perfect. She wears a size ONE.
Which made me think. Despite her height, and her beauty, she’s still a little girl. Her hands are small, and her body still has some developing to do. She’s still three years away from even being a teenager. She does not weigh in to the triple digits. Soon enough she will be a substantial woman, too.
So why? Why why why why why do I think that I should be anything close to the size of my ten year old daughter? Because the media says so? Because airbrushed models in magazines say so? Because people with lithe genetics say so? My parents aren’t little, and neither were my grandparents or great grandparents. I’m not only sturdy breeding stock, I have bred. I bred this perfect creature who stood before me in the dressing room at WalMart. I’m proud of my strong back and my strong hands, and the substantial women who passed on their substantial genes and strength and courage, and the other women who are my friends and live life with gusto and eat birthday cake every single time it is offered, because to refuse it is a crime against humanity.
Besides which, there is no way you could pay me to go back through junior high, or middle school, or whatever it is called this week, nor is there an amount of liposuction that would make the idea attractive to me. I’m happy where I am.
Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loribduffauthor.