Friday, November 12, 2010

New On the Parenting Post: Bones, Baggage, Black Girl Curves and Mama Bears

Okay, yeah—I’m sensitive about weight and body issues, particularly when it comes to my girls. I lay blame squarely at the feet of my childhood best friend’s mom. I’ll call her Evilene. Because Evilene was evil. Particularly when she stopped everything she was doing to look at my adolescent body with all its curve and thick and awkward and proclaim, “Humph—you sure are getting fat.” The first time she said it, I wanted to die. The second time, I started thinking maybe she was right. Each subsequent time after that, I’d figure out more ways to hate my body and secret it under mounds of sweaters and baggy pants and other stuff that would hide my hips and butt and thick legs from her scrutiny. And I’d tuck myself into the basement of my childhood home and exercise like a lunatic.
The good thing is that I was exercising. The bad thing, of course, is that I was doing it for all the wrong reasons—had, at age 13, internalized this grown woman’s criticism and processed it in a way that made me hate me for years to come. That I didn’t develop an eating disorder is a small miracle.
Now, finally, I love me just the way I am. But I’m a woman and a mother. And like Erykah Badu so poetically put it in her song, Tyrone, I’m sensitive about my shit. And the second someone says something sideways to my girls about their weight or their hair or their skin color or whatever, I go all the way in. Hard. (Nope, I guarantee you not even Sarah Palin can do “Mama Bear” like I do “Mama Bear.”)
Which explains the what-the-crap conniption I had when Nick recounted a conversation he’d had with Mari’s coach, who, earlier this season, pronounced my 11-year-old needed to get “more fit.” In front of her. Took me right back to my days standing in Evilene’s kitchen, getting the “you need to lose some weight, don’t you think?” talks.
“So,” I said to Nick, fire in my eyes, hands on my hips, spittle on my lips, “after you flattened coach and he got back up off the ground, did he at least apologize to Mari?”...
It didn’t matter what Nick was saying. I swear, all I could channel was these two grown men towering over my daughter, telling my baby she was slow and fat and lazy. And yeah—the rest of that conversation isn’t fit for a public parenting site...

Want to know if I got all "Mama Bear" on the coach? Check out the rest of this post on the MyBrownBaby page at's The Parenting Post. For more great stories about child development and motherhood, check out 

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  1. Thank you for sharing this story. It reminded me that regardless of age we, all of us, teach each other and that as adults we can sometimes lose sight of the simplicity and directness of a situation because our "accumulated" stuff can get all mixed up in it.

    I am sorry that an "Evilene" was part of your life during a time of great and wonderful change. Many of us have had our own "Evilenes" and carry scars that sometimes prevent us from shining as bright as we individually should. As an adult I often find myself disgusted by the way adults, especially adult women, speak to and "school" those who, especially young women,are the next in line to continue the generations. The sadder thing is most don't realize the damage they are doing; they are just continuing to behave in the manner they were taught and unware of how powerful their words and actions are.

    In the end we are each responsible for how we express ourselves and how empathic we can and should be to those coming behind us. Your posts and blog are wonderful reminders that support a choice to be aware of our intents and purpose. Thank you.

  2. I loved this post. It was insightful and entertaining. You did have me rollin' at points and you educated me as well. Well done!


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