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Bikini Beautiful Week: I Wrongly Thought Raising Sons Meant I Wouldn’t Have To Worry About Their Body Image

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“Daddy, am I fat?”

Overheard this morning, as I’m upstairs quickly braiding my hair, I look in the mirror. I feel fat today with PMS bloat, I figure this is the best I can do in the 15 minutes I have to get ready before heading out. My 4-year-old is at the table with his routine breakfast. My 9-month-old is in the Pac-n-Play while “3 Little Kittens“ chimes from an electronic toy that is a hand me down from his brother’s baby days.

I hear my husband’s reply, “No boy you’re so skinny I can practically see through you”! He giggles. Upstairs I remain silent. My mind races, did I say “fatty baby is killing my arms” or did someone at daycare make fun of him? It’s happened before… Aubrey said I smelled Mommy. I had a bad day because Karen told me my hair looks like a girl’s, but I like long hair. He pronounces it “Yong hair” and tells me my yong hair is bootifull, and likes to touch it when we lay on the couch reading.

I have two happy, healthy boys whose eyelashes are the envy of any mascara commercial. Their smiles light up a room and they’re full of magical boy energy and playfulness that charms everyone they meet. My chubby infant crawls like a champ, and pulls himself up on furniture. My pediatrician keeps lecturing me about the childhood obesity epidemic in America but I’m confident he’ll lose the weight once he starts toddling after big bro.

I thought having two boys was going to be so easy. I scoffed at friends with girls. No makeup wars, princess dresses or someone stealing my heels! No body image issues or period problems! But recently I have begun to realize raising boys isn’t exactly the cake walk I thought it would be.

Like any other mom I want to raise respectful young men who are confident and brave enough to call out any kid who acts like a bully, and don’t view women as sex objects. I tell my son that everyone is different, and it’s OK. Our friends come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some families have two daddies, or one mommy, and that’s OK too.

We have a pool in our community that just opened. Nine months post C-section, I’m nervous about wearing a two piece even though my husband assures me I look great. Now I’m very conscious of what I say around my older son who soaks up everything he hears like a sponge. I try not to say I look fat today, or I hate my belly. Although he hasn’t said anything self degrading yet, I tell my son he is handsome, that he looks grown up in his Angry Birds shirt that is currently his fashion fav. He seems out of place with his So-Cal, Kingston-like hair, and skull flip flops among the short haired, Nike-shoed children at daycare.

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  • Cee

    One of my male cousins was like this for a couple of years growing up. Around 4 too he asked to go swimming in a long sleeved shirt. He never wanted to wear shorts or short sleeved shirts, he always covered his belly while he was changing. He just did not like the idea of his body. It was so sad to see such a young child so disgusted with his body. Luckily though by around 6 or 7 he just suddenly…snapped out of it. Literally, from one day to the next. I hope your son goes the same route. Artistic, sensitive boys are so sweet to raise.

  • LadyClodia

    I have the same sort of problems with our two boys, and I’ve been trying to be more observant about how I refer to my own body around them. I don’t think my 4 year old has ever said he was fat, and he’s not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he suddenly said something like that. He can get obsessed with weird things, as all little kids can. I try to hold my tongue when I want to say something bad about my body.
    I’m just slightly concerned that your pediatrician is harping on you so much about the baby’s weight. My 4 year old was 29 lbs at 10 months, so he was quite the chunk, and he hardly ever moved, but our pediatrician said it was OK as long as he started to thin out once he got moving. And once he did get moving he did start to gradually thin out. It took awhile for him to lose the baby fat; you can still see it a bit in his pictures from when he was 2 1/2-3. I seriously never thought we’d get to a place with him that pants would be too big for him around the waist, but we are. It just seems a little early to be so obsessed with the baby’s weight.