Tegan is in the ensemble cast for the city’s volunteer production of Aladdin. I picked her up after a 4 hour rehearsal. She got in the car and said she had ate a snack of goldfish crackers and something else that comes in a bag, and a bottle of water. I was dropping her off at a sleepover next, so I turn into a drive-through. “Oh are we getting Jack in the Box??” “Yep, what do you want?” “well i’m only a little bit hungry…I really only eat a small amount every two hours.”
Great. One dance rehearsal and she’s bragging about how little she eats, limiting chicken-nuggets.
It’s two nights later, we finish dinner, and most of the food is still on her plate. Chase had gone off into another room and I was in the kitchen. She remained at the table, reading for homework. I took her plate out of the microwave and told her that her food was hot again, and that she absolutely had to eat it.
“Tegan I don’t care what this relationship is that you want to carry on with food or how cute describing yourself as “peckish” sounds, you are going to feed your body the exact amount of food that it needs to be healthy and do what it needs to do, which is to grow and play and be strong. You are not a little bird or a little hamster and you’re going to eat like a regular healthy person in regular healthy amounts NOW EAT YOUR CHICKEN.”
Whatever, she didn’t have a problem eating it, she ate. I’m going to try to continue doing my best by offering alternative ways to thinking about healthy relationships with food and nutrients, because on my top 5 list of things I don’t want for Tegan, or any of the girls that I have the privilege of raising, is for them to experience (and especially not foster) an unhealthy relationship with themselves.
I am not blaming the culture of dance rehearsal to be the cause of this, it just as easily could or could not have been an experience that she had there or anywhere else that recently inspired her choice of words in relating to eating and meals. If having a relationship of restriction and turning away from eating grows then I will continue to investigate as to the sources of the messages that Tegan is receiving. I work diligently at normalizing the ideas of healthy positive bodies.
I also can’t believe that through college I was almost entirely vegetarian/raw vegan, and now “chicken” is my answer to everything.