Reality is Joelle is probably bigger then most of the girls in her class. Last year she told Tim that some girls in her class told her she was ugly. And I am sure there is no shortage of kids telling her she is fat. She was just like me, a little clumsy, a little too loud, and all over the place. It was like looking at my 11 year old self.
During the shoot, Tim took some photos of mom so Joelle and brother Ryan spotted a tree. The branch was a bit out of her height range as her brother took the lower one. I was watching them while Mom was distracted. She looked at me and said "I am too fat to climb the tree. I am too big to pick up." I was instantly crushed for her but did not let her see it. I told she was not too big and I lifted her up and put in the tree. She was so happy. I almost cried. I instantly wished someone had helped my 11 year old self up in to a tree. If more people had told me not to let my size (as a child) keep me from doing the things I really wanted to do. It really was not about Joelle's size but the tree was just too high for her. But she instantly thought it was her weight that kept her from being able to climb.
All through the shoot we made sure to tell her how pretty she was and how much we loved her photos. I know that I could not erase the pain of people calling her fat in one photo shoot but I hope that somewhere in her memory she can say someone called her pretty. I know her mom does but when someone you don't know says that too you, it can mean so much. Next year when we do the photos I hope things are better for her. I will keep telling her she is pretty because she is and we all are.