Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
"Growing Up With Goddesses"
ABOUT GODDESS CARDS: Love notes and affirmations for ALL women. (Nymphs as well as Goddesses.) "Inspirational" and FUN!
I grew up among goddesses. Though I was born in Borneo, my family moved to the West Indies soon after my birth. We lived in Trinidad until I was 9 years old.
I knew, without ever being told, that my Trini nanny, Mama Ethel, was a goddess. Nearly six feet tall, she weighed at least 200 pounds. Her face shone like polished ebony, and her lap was the safest place I knew. I can still hear her singing!
Though I loved her best, Mama wasn't the only goddess. Along the roads of rural Trinidad, gorgeous Creole and East Indian women swayed to market with baskets or water cans balanced on their heads, and babies bouncing on their hips. Curvy? You bet! Men whistled and hooted their delight in them as they passed. How rich and fine they were! The nymphs, slender European or North American women like my beautiful, Canadian birth mother, Ruth Isabel, paled in comparison. I loved the native goddesses, with their tropical complexions and sensuous shapes.
By the time I reached my teens, we had moved to New York, where I finished high school and college. Goddesses were scarce as hen's teeth on my college campus! Girls with voluptuous figures hid them under baggy sweaters or sweatshirts. Since nymphs were admired, goddesses tried to starve themselves into fashionable shadows of their true selves.
I fought my own battles. Neither nymph nor goddess, I was almost as tall as Mama Ethel—but skinny as a rake, and nicknamed "Bird Legs." I couldn't get it right either. Forgetting the rich diversity of the West Indian goddesses of my childhood, I tried to plump up. Naturally, I remained thin as Ribby Ratsoup, the starveling rat in a children's story.
Fortunately, I met and married a man who thought I was gorgeous as I was. Eventually, we moved to Los Angeles. We had three children: a son and two daughters. My oldest child was a nymph; the youngest grew up to be a goddess.
How do you raise a goddess in a town where you can never be too rich or too thin? Bombarded with messages that only Thin is In, a curvy girl has a tough time celebrating herself. Especially when mom joins the enemy, and starts packing her lunch box with carrot sticks!
Years later, I visited Amanda in L.A. She's grown up now, a gifted singer and actress who has a totally cool career teaching singing and musical theatre to children in her successful STAGE KIDS THEATRE COMPANY. She has huge green eyes and yards of thick, blonde hair that I'd kill for. She's a fabulous daughter, sister, and crazy aunt to her siblings' children. I love to be with her! She makes me laugh; she makes me happy. The only thing she's NOT is skinny. That worries her. It worries me even more. How can she fail to see how beautiful she is? I wished she could see herself as I saw her---as archetypal Woman.
I remembered the goddesses of my childhood. How had I forgotten them? Why didn't I share what I knew then with my daughter? I didn't waste another minute.
"You're a GODDESS, not a nymph!" I cried, dizzy with re-discovery.
I made her my first Goddess Card. It was one of a long series of love notes and affirmations I've created for my curvy girl, and for women everywhere in all their rich diversity. Women who've forgotten—as I did, for a while, or who've never been told—that bodies come in all sizes and shapes. Everything from slender to voluptuous. And ALL of them are beautiful!
© Anne Baird About Anne: Anne Baird worked for 8 years as a teacher and school administrator. She is the author of 11 successful published children’s books (William Morrow and Simon & Schuster), and a freelance artist and journalist who has worked for three small newspapers and for private clients. Her GODDESS CARD line grew from a birthday card she created for her daughter, Amanda, who was disheartened at being Rubenesque in the Land of Thin. (Los Angeles). That seminal card declaring "You’re a GODDESS, not a nymph!" evolved into a long line of love notes and affirmations for ALL women. (Nymphs as well as Goddesses.) And the line is still growing. Anne has been endorsed as being one of three contemporary artists whose images promote "healthy body images." She is prouder still of letters from women who tell her that the cards are "inspirational" and FUN! That’s what it’s all about.