I need to share my Friday night with y’all. I don’t know if it will make you feel amused, angry, sad, or some combination of the three. I’m still sort of trying to figure out my own feelings on the matter.
So it was Friday – yesterday – after the hell of yet another flooded carpool. I swear, someone somewhere disturbed a tomb or stole an idol doll and the spirits are PISSED. Carpool is downright cursed. There was no way we had the time or energy to get to jiu jitsu, which we’re trying to get back into after a year off due to COVID. There was nothing for it. I set about making dinner, pretty relieved to have survived the week and the first 3 days of the new school year. Stella came into the kitchen and asked for duct tape, a rather unusual request. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure where it was and even if we had any, but that her dad had a big old tape bin in the other room. At the very least we had packing tape. Maybe that would work? She seemed pleased with that answer and went away.
I should have known something was up. I heard her go into the bathroom several times, locking the door behind her. That’s not that unusual, but the frequency should have been an alarm. My mom Spidey-senses weren’t on point.
As I was finishing dinner, she came into the kitchen wearing only shorts and a sports bra. She had apparently found duct tape – pink with white hearts. She had wrapped her entire mid-section in it, effectively making herself a corset. She said she did it so that she would look thinner. She looked at me expectantly. I’m not sure what reaction she was expecting, and I had no idea which reaction to give. Part of me wanted to laugh hysterically. Part of me was pissed. Part of me was absolutely gutted that my beautiful 10 year old daughter taped her fucking waist up to look skinny.
She said she just wanted to be thinner and beautiful. I told her she was perfect the way she was – that she was beautiful the way she was. I reminded her that her body is changing, big-time, and that it was going to look different along the way. All of that is normal.
I actually stayed pretty calm, which in retrospect, I’m kind of proud of. I asked if she had thought about how she was going to remove all that tape. Her eyes widened. She hadn’t thought about that. She set about trying to peel tape off. It went well until she got to the tape that was actually stuck to her skin. Then it got complicated. She managed to clear a small area, howling all the while, and it looked like someone had given her a hickey on her side when she was done. Peeling that shit off without assistance wasn’t going to work. Duct tape is waterproof, so soaking in a bath wasn’t going to make it release. We needed a solvent.
While some cod and carrots overcooked in a pan, I began to pour small amounts of 70% isopropyl alcohol along the top edge of the tape, then gently tried to peel about 4 layers of tape off. It took forever but it worked. I managed to dislodge a small bit, then we took a dinner break. I had a drink and steeled my nerves for the rest of it. I guess that’s one good thing about COVID: we have a ton of alcohol around the house, rubbing and otherwise. Getting the tape off my daughter took almost 2 bottles of rubbing alcohol, 2 cocktails for me, and the better part of an hour, as she cried and hollered through most of it. At the end, her skin was pink, but perfectly intact.
I have been so, so careful not to talk critically about anyone’s bodies in a negative way – my own, especially. Sure, I can’t stand looking at myself in the mirror, but she doesn’t know that. I know body dysmorphia is a thing, and I know from personal experience that girls are so vulnerable to it. We all want to look thin, flawless, with glowing skin and perky boobs. That ain’t what most of us get, and if we do, we don’t get to keep it. I guess I was hoping things were at least a little different for this generation of girls. Nope.
I’m angry and sad about this. I’m not sure what to do about it other than to point out that everyone – Stella included – is beautiful in their own way. I don’t know how to make her believe it, however, and that’s the part that breaks my heart in a way that duct tape won’t fix.
Sorry for another emo blog. At least I didn’t bitch about COVID this time?