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I grew up among goddesses. The daughter of a Canadian mother and an English/Dutch father, my multicultured family moved to the West Indies soon after my birth in Borneo. We lived in Trinidad until I was 9 years old.

I always knew that my Trini nanny, Mama Ethel, was a goddess. Nearly six feet tall, she weighed at least 200 pounds. Her face shone like polished mahogany. Her lap was the safest place I knew.

Though I loved her best, Mama was not 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! I loved their tropical complexions and sensuous shapes.

When I reached my teens, we 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 authentic 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. Forgetting the rich diversity of my West Indian childhood, I tried to plump up. Naturally I remained as thin as Ribby Ratsoup, the starveling rat in a children's story.

Fortunately, I met and married a man who thought I was perfect as I was. We moved to Los Angeles, and raised three children: two girls and a boy. My oldest daughter 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. She began to struggle with her self-image.

Despite Amanda's concerns, she grew up to be a gifted, entrepreneurial teacher who owns and runs a successful children's musical theater after-school program and repertory company called Musical Theater Los Angeles. She's FABULOUS! She makes me laugh; she makes me happy. But it appeared that she would never be skinny.

"So what?" I thought.

I wanted her to show her how I saw her ~ as archetypal Woman. I remembered the goddesses of my childhood. And the legendary goddesses of mythology whose stories I loved as a little girl. How had I forgotten them? Why had I not talked about their authentic beauty with my daughters? I did not waste another minute.

"You're a GODDESS, not a nymph!" I cried.

I made her my first Goddess Card. It was the beginning of a long line of love notes and affirmations I created for my curvy girl, and for women everywhere, in all their rich diversity. Nymphs and goddesses alike. Even nymphs, like my other lovely daughter, Tracey, or my beautiful granddaughters, Alexandra and Whitney, can be plagued by self doubt.

So many women have forgotten - or have never been told - that bodies are supposed to come in all sizes and shapes.

And ALL of them are beautiful!

Anne Baird
Vancouver, BC

PS Amanda now IS slim! And very beautiful. But then, she was always beautiful. Women just are....