I find it’s almost impossible, surrounded by so many digitally altered women everyday, to feel confident about my body ALL the time. I’ve counseled women on body image and blogged about it more than enough, yet still I find myself frowning in the mirror about certain ‘unchangeables’ on a daily basis, and all advice I’ve given seems completely meaningless in those moments.
MAN my nose is weird, my hair too thin and seriously, could my legs be any twiggier?
*Sigh*. It’s not easy being a woman today. The struggle will always be real, but this morning I feel compelled to share with you something personal from my life that helps me stay present with rationality.
In the face of my ever-present insecurities, and though I have many, many faults as a mother, I have always remained conscious of how I regard my physical self in front of my kids. Of particular concern to me is my daughter, for obvious reasons.
When Nevaeh asks about my stretch marks, I tell her with a smile that they are the love marks I got to receive when God knit her and her brothers together in my belly.
When she sees me putting coverup on and asks me what it’s for, I tell her with a smile that sometimes I like to put makeup on for some extra pizazz, but that I don’t ever need to wear it.
And when my husband compliments my looks in front of my daughter, I don’t ever give the usual courtesy denials. You know, “Oh, noooo, geez, I’m looking a little chubby,” or, “No way, I totally look like death today”.
I answer my husbands compliments with something less hostile, such as, “Thank you, I so appreciate that”.
It traces back to the concept that our kids don’t do what we say, they do what we do. It is less recognized, however, that they also believe what we say when we think they’re not listening to us. This is something my mom understood when my sister and I were growing up. Were we completely sheltered from body shaming and negative self-image? No, we had struggles, but our moms ability to filter some of her more negative ideals of ‘self’ certainly gave us water wings on which to stay afloat the madness.
There’s an unspoken rule among women that if you don’t negate the nice things someone says about you, you are a narcissistic weirdo. Yeah, I engage in that behavior myself, but I toe the line of censorship when my daughter is present, teetering on the fine line between perceived vanity and the self-loathing vernacular we are more comfortable with.
Women desperately need this wakeup call: However different you and your daughter may look, she will grow into a young woman who sees herself EXACTLY, and with no exception, as you see yourself.
When you look in the mirror with disgust and contempt for the body that serves you, please look at your daughter and imagine her living that same way.
We can’t change overnight the way we feel about ourselves or the advertising we are exposed to, and in truth there’s a high probability that we’ll never be able to change those things.
One thing we always have control over is the vocabulary and expressions we choose to share with our daughters. As mothers of daughters it is our responsibility to filter what we say and to teach our girls gratitude for a body that is functional and facilitates life.
No matter how you feel about yourself today, try it. Say something nice about yourself in the presence of your daughter.