For those of us with a daughter, we need to ask ourselves are we sending her the right message about what is beautiful? Are we showing the same self-confidence and self-respect that we want her to have?
Growing up the middle of 3 girls I think one of us was always on some kind of fad diet or complaining about our weight, our hair, our looks in general. It must have been exhausting for my dad!
And around my senior year of high school, I dropped about 30 pounds and teetered on the brink of disaster with an eating disorder. I was certainly my thinnest, but definitely my most miserable. Food consumed my every thought and was simulataneously the thing I hated the most.
Thankfully with the love and support of my parents, I escaped that kind of unhealthy lifestyle after only a few years. Over the next 15 years, I have pretty much stayed the same weight, fluctuating only a few pounds here and there. I try to eat relatively healthy but never deny myself something I really want. I have become a huge fan of my bootcamp exercise routine, in a healthy and fun way.
But do I think I look hot? Or beautiful? Or even cute? Hmmm, maybe some days, in the perfect outfit in just the right lighting. But on average, I have all the same nasty comments floating around in my head as most other women I know. Where did those lines come from? When did my stomach get so flabby? For the love of all that is good, quit waving Hillary to your friends…it looks like your arm may flap off!
But here’s the big super important question…Have my daughters EVER heard me voice one inadequacy or self doubt? Have I ever gotten out of a picture because it was a bad hair day? Have I ever refused to put on my swimsuit and play with my girls in the pool because I was having a fat day? Have I ever walked around loathing swimsuit shopping or how my jeans are snug one day (or ten?!)?
Nope – Never – Not once that I can recall. And I even pinch my husband if he hints at any of his own body image inadequacies in front of the girls.
Because I know that from as early as is possible, they have been silently and sometimes even unintentionally bombarded with ideas of how they should look.
Whether it’s the barbies they play with (and yes, I let them play with barbies), or a tv show where rarely is the main character a heavy set youth, or comments from other mom friends – these girls are forming ideas at an early age of what is pretty. That being thin is desirable and being fat is not.
And I know that I am their first line of defense. That I am the biggest predicting factor in their own idea of body image and of what is acceptable and ok and even desirable. As moms, we need to ask ourself every day – Are we sending her the right message?
So I make it my mission every day to never let them see me down on myself. And you know what? The more that is my mission, the less down on myself I have become.
The saying shouldn’t be you are what you eat but you are what you think. If I think I’m valuable and pretty and I know my self worth is so much more than my appearance, it suddenly makes it true!
My girls will see a strong Mom. One who values her health and believes exercise can be fun and is so much more than a way to lose weight. That I will eat what I want but will always remember healthy foods and moderation make me and my body FEEL better. That being pretty IS truly about what’s on the inside. That the outside is the host to the heart that dwells within. That self worth and appreciation come from what you do and who you are, not how you look.
And when I go to try on that bathing suit this year and I go to my neighborhood pool for the first time this summer, I will say to myself and to my girls, Why Yes, I Do Rock This Bathing Suit!