So I was clearing out old school papers and other junk from my computer, when I found this Diary entry in my words document. I wrote it back in 2006. I can't even begin to express the sadness and frustration I feel knowing that girls as young as five are conscious of body image. How can we as a society reverse the damage of TV, magazines or even parents whose own negative self image may be rubbing off on their children to help their children feel good about their bodies?
The rain was coming down hard in Seattle; plinking off the windows, gathering in the puddles and soaking the clothes of parents as they rush from their warm cars to Roaring Mouse Art studio to pick up their children. It was typical weather for Seattle but it seemed out of place when for the last three weeks Seattle has seen nothing but blue skies and sunshine.
For the last month I have been working at Roaring Mouse Art Studio, it is a great place for kids to come and do arts and crafts. I love finger painting! Some how I always manage to get more paint on me then any of the kids, LOL. I guess the head teacher finally caught on to this because instead of placing me at the painting table she had me manage the coloring table, which is totally fine with me! I love crayons! This is making me sound more like one of the little kids rather then the teacher’s assistant, but really I am a big help to “Big Teacher” as the kids call her and the children love me. While managing the coloring booth I decided to conduct an experiment. I drew two girls who looked identical except for one was larger than the other. Then I held up both pictures and asked Elsie who is 5 what was different about the two girls. She looked at them for a second before bluntly stating “she is thin and she is fat!” “Is there any other differences between the two girls?” I asked? She studied then for a minute and then answered tentatively “I don’t think so.” “Which one would you rather be friends with Elsie?” “That girl!” Elsie said pointing to the picture of the thinner girl. “Why her” I asked? “Because the other girl is fat!” She said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. And why wouldn’t you rather be friends with the skinny girl? “She would be more fun to play with. If your fat you cant play hide and seek because you stand out and people can see you and that’s not fun if you don’t have to look. And fat people’s clothes pop off!” “Have you ever seen someone’s clothes pop off?” I asked her. “I have seen fat people’s clothes pop off on TV.” She answered. “This is fun ask me more questions!” she said bouncing up and down in her seat. “Who do you think is prettier?” Elsie pointed to the skinny one. “Would you rather be dumb and skinny or smart and big?” Elsie bit her lip, thinking. After about a minute she pointed to the skinny girl, “I want to be her.” “So you would rather be thin and dumb then fat and smart.” Elsie nodded. “So you must really not want to be fat.” Elsie nodded again. “Ask me more!” I shook my head, “I have to go and get snack ready.”
I watched Elsie closely during snack time to make sure she that she ate. I did