Growing up I was always very aware of my looks. I can’t remember what age this started at, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been self-conscious about my long face, my freckles and the stretch marks that cover my inner thighs. I’ve always been of average size and build, but I was never happy with my size, nor how I looked.
It wasn’t until after I had Little A that I began to realize that my criticism of myself was hindering my life. I was so focused on what I thought others were thinking of me (my weight, my looks) that I was unhappy and stressed out. But prior to that realization, I thought that the skinnier I was, the happier I’d be. I think about that girl now and shake my head; having realized that being skinny isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
When I was a junior in college I got down to the lowest weight I can remember being. I think I was around 130-ish pounds (I’m 5’10” mind you). I was pretty pleased with myself when I went in for a doctor’s appointment and they weighed me and I saw that number on the scale. That was until the doctor came in and told me that based on my body type I was underweight and they wanted me to gain a few pounds to be in a more healthy weight range. It was then that I realized that even though I was skinny, I was still unhappy with how I looked.
Each day Little A grows more and more curious about makeup, talks about being beautiful, and studies not only her own body, but my body as well. She asks when she’ll get boobies and when she can shave her legs. I see her watching me get dressed each morning, looking at each part of my body. She mimics what I say and how I act. And I know that even when I think she’s not listening, she is; even when I’m critical of myself. But to her, I’m perfect. I know this because she tells me so all the time. She doesn’t see any flaws when she looks at me. All she sees is her mommy that she loves more than anything.
It pains me to think that my criticism of myself could tarnish her own self image. I never want her to hear me criticizing the way I look and have that make her question her own looks. Right now she loves herself 100%; never have I heard her say she thinks she’s fat or she doesn’t think she’s pretty. And I would love more than anything for her to keep that confidence. One of the reasons I workout at home is to set a good example for my kids. I’ve learned over the years that skinny isn’t better than strong, and that a fit, healthy body is what I want to have. Yes I’m still conscious of my body, but in a healthy way; a way that has nothing to do with the number on the scale. I never want my daughter to look at herself in the mirror and think about herself like I used to.
Which is why I want to teach her to about what it means to have a positive body image. I want her to know what it means to be strong, and that skinny doesn’t always mean healthy. I want her to understand that what she sees in magazines isn’t always real. And I want to be a positive role model for her; someone she will always look up to and want to be like. I want her to know that life is more about being loving, kind, and generous than about what someone looks like. My biggest fear is that one day she’ll look in the mirror and no longer love herself. It almost brings me to tears to think about words of self hate coming out of her mouth. But I want her to know that no matter what size she is I will love her with all of my being. I want to show her how to be healthy and teach her that if she likes what she sees in the mirror, than that’s more important than what any scale says.
I know I won’t be able to shield her from things like that forever. But what I do know is that by loving myself I am teaching her the greatest lesson I can about body image. No matter what weight I’m at, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m happy with what I see. And I hope that when she turns 11 or 12 or whatever age it is these days that girls start to worry about what they see in the mirror, that she remembers what I’ve taught her and continues to love herself in return.
Yes!!! Good job Mama! I’d much rather like how I look than what any scale says. And being skinny is so overrated. I remember growing up and hating how skinny I was, but I couldn’t put on weight for anything. I remember people telling me I looked like a toothpick or a pencil, and I was thinking, “G, thanks… that’s what I’ve always wanted to look like.” 😉
I LOVEEE this!!! I have a daughter and pray for her everyday that she will see the beauty in herself thru God’s love and not this world
I love this! My daughter is 9 and I always try to say positive things about my body. I don’t want her to EVER feel bad about hers.
Yes! And your daughter is getting to that age where girls start to worry about their looks more. So glad you are setting a good example for her of what it means to love your body.
This is such an important topic! I have seen too many people struggle with a negative body image and dangerous eating disorders. It’s SO wise for you to know that you have a great impact on your daughter and her body image!! Just being aware that our daughters are watching us and listening to us talk is a big step in showing them what is important.
Exactly. I wish the world wasn’t so focused on body image, but unfortunately that’s not the case. So if we can set good examples for our girls then maybe they’ll be the ones to not be so overly focused on things like body image, and they’ll love themselves no matter what.
I love this post! I have one that’s similar that I want to write one day, because it’s so important! Growing up my mom was always obsessing about her weight and eating unhealthy foods and calling herself fat. It really rubbed off on me and I don’t want my daughter to see me doing those things!!
This is awesome! I have 2 nieces 5 and 8 and my sister-in-law is a very self-confident, respectful, classy woman and I hope that her behavior will rub off on her daughters and not the behaviors of society.
That’s wonderful, Megan, that your SIL is has that self-confidence! It sounds like your nieces have a great role model to look up to.
This was such a beautiful post! Your daughter will be envious of all that you do to stay healthy and fit! ALSO, her confidence and imagination radiates through everything she does. With that princess complex she has, she is growing up to be a pretty independent and incredibly intelligent woman! You can totally tell.
Oh man, while I have to deal with nonstop movement/noise/dirt/bugs and poop conversations, I’m glad I don’t need to worry about this with boys! I myself never really struggled with body image until I hit high school. Some therapy later, I’ve gotten back to a good spot! It’s tough being a woman in Western culture with all the demands on you.
Yes, this is good. Even though we only have boys right now, I do try to be mindful about how and what I say about my body around them. It’s important that I watch what I say and think about my body for myself, but I think modeling this is also very important even with boys. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that women need to look a certain way in order to be pretty, beautiful, or healthy. I hope to model for them that bodies change, but they’re really amazing (especially a woman’s) and that no matter what being healthy is most important! 🙂
Thanks for your thoughts! What an important topic. I once read the advice: “Be your own parent.” This has given me lots to pause and consider as I raise two girls. What behavior and attitude and self-talk would I desire to see in their lives? How can I model that in my own life, applying those principles to myself and thereby modeling it to them?
Tiffany, this is such a good post! I struggle with it everyday. Being a girl mom, we have to constantly think about what we are unknowingly teaching our daughters. I have tried to get better about not making self-deprecating comments about my body or even congratulating others on being “skinny.” It is a slippery slope and it is too easy to start down it. I applaud everything you do, and love that you are teaching A to be a strong little girl! xoxo
You’re so right, Tiffany. And we talk about it at TiP, too, because finally the conversation is taking off! I love it! Mothers are starting to block the unhealthy noise from society and heal our body image for our daughters sake and our own. It’s liberating! More importantly, it will positively liberate future generations of women emotionally (and in ways we have yet to imagine).
Great points!! My daughter is about to turn seven, and this is very important to me, too.
Oh body image… I worry about it all the time. I get concerned that when I’m not loving my body, that my children will see that. The healthy body image starts young. Children are impressionable. They watch us closely and listen even closer.
You’re doing a great job Tiffany!
Thanks for sharing.
This was such a great post girl!! My mom didn’t have the best body image of herself and I think that sort of fell onto me as I got older.. I thankfully haven’t ever had a problem with food or been “mean” to myself although I’ve said some things out loud while G was around and he sort of looked at me and said dont say that about yourself! I love what you are trying to teach A!! xo, biana
This is a really terrific post. It is SO important to teach our children, girls and boys, that people come in different shapes, sizes and colors and that everyone’s true beauty is in their thoughts and actions and not just in the superficial appearance of their bodies.
I hope you don’t mind my sharing a link below to an article on CNN from February, 2015, that highlighted a report from the child advocacy group, Common Sense Media, which shared that CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 5 are concerned about their body image.
I find this a very, very disturbing phenomenon. All of us, parents or not, need to convey with our words and actions that a person’s worth and beauty are not defined by their outward appearance. Additionally, we need to put more effort into voicing our concerns to media and brands that continue to promote unhealthy standards through their words and images. We and our children deserve better.
Here’s the CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/13/living/feat-body-image-kids-younger-ages/