Saturday, 7 September 2013

Girl in the mirror

“I’m quite thin,” The Girl said, looking in the glass.

How do you feel about that? I asked.

I’m keeping an eye on The Girl, knowing how quickly she is moving towards adolescence, and knowing what mainstream culture does to girls. We grow up surrounded by fantasy images of men and women, large as Godzilla on the side of the road and splattered across a hundred magazines at every petrol stop. We grow up dealing more with glowing screens than we do with people, and on those screens we see, over and over, warped cartoons of what it means to be a man or woman.

When my nine-year-old looks in the mirror, then, I want to know what she sees.

“I wish I weren’t so thin,” she said. “I’d like to be bigger.”

I relaxed. You’re getting big quickly, I told her, and you’re just the right size for a nine-year-old – tall for your age, and fit, but those are good things.

“You know some girls want to be thinner?” she said.

That happens sometimes, I said. What do you think?

“It’s not good to be too thin,” she said. “But some people are too thin and can't tell.”

You're right, I said – very few people are a healthy weight these days. A lot of the girls you’ll see in movies and magazines are too thin; what do you think?

“I hadn’t noticed,” she said. “Then again, all the movies I see are old, in black and white. All the women in them look fine.”

Yes, I said – they often did.   

Photo: Louise Brooks, circa 1925. 

1 comment:

Linda Bjornstad said...

Your daughter made me think of Marilyn Monroe's glamour. Her incredible good looks plus her "womanly" figure would be challenged today as "too fat" and she'd be pressured to lose the weight. Sad isn't it?