I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few months, but every time I sit down to write it, the words don’t come. It’s such a huge, weighty topic, and one that I worry about every day. I want to do this topic justice because it matters to me, and it’s a huge problem among girls and women in our society. This post has also been hard to write because loving my body is something I still have to consciously decide every day. It’s not something that comes naturally, and that’s hard to admit to myself, let alone anyone else.
Growing up, I was tall and skinny, but had very low self-confidence. I struggled with different eating disorders all through high school, and even into college. I tried out modeling my sophomore year of high school, and I remember one incident when someone told me I needed to lose one or two more inches around my waist. I quit after that, but internalized what that person had said. I didn’t ever feel comfortable in my body, and I didn’t take care of it the way I should have.
We live in a world where the media tells us that there’s only one version of beauty. The picture of beauty we idealize is tall and skinny, with big boobs, a thigh gap, and a toned butt. We’re taught by example that showing off your body by wearing tight, skimpy clothes is how you gain attention and affection, and that by covering up and dressing modestly is old-fashioned and unattractive.
It hasn’t been until recently, after having three kids of my own, that I’ve started to appreciate and respect my body. I’ve started to realize that my body is incredible and it’s amazing all that it does for me. My body grew three tiny little people inside of it, and I am eternally grateful. Yes, I have some stretch marks and a little bit of a muffin top in my belly area, but they are part of the only body I’m going to get, and it’s not fair for me to compare my belly to a belly in a swimsuit ad that has been airbrushed and starved and sucked in.
Now that I have a daughter, I’ve realized the impact that my perception of my body will have on her and her perception of her body. Kids are very aware of what we do, and I don’t want my daughter to subconsciously learn that you’re not supposed to like your body. I want her to learn how much I love my body and take care of it, so that she’ll want to do the same.
Here’s how I am teaching my daughter to love her body every single day:
- I love my own body so that she has a positive example of self-love and self-care.
- I teach my daughter healthy habits like eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as exercising regularly and staying active.
- I don’t say negative things about my appearance, or my daughter’s appearance.
- I teach my daughter that there are lots of different forms of physical beauty, and that just because someone is a different color or size doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful. One tool we use for this is playing with the Barbie Fashionistas line. Each doll is different and they are all gorgeous!
- I don’t ever comment on people’s sizes, my daughter’s size, or my size. We don’t use the words “skinny” or “fat” in our home because I don’t think they help anyone.
- I am teaching my daughter what beauty really is. Beauty is more than just a physical thing. Beauty can be the kindness shown by a grocery store clerk, the joy of fresh garden peas and carrots, or the way you feel after making it through something hard. Beauty is all around us in all different forms, and it’s a feeling more than anything else.
I’m teaching my daughter to love her body by loving my body myself. I would never say anything bad to my daughter about her body, so I need to stop saying bad things to myself about my own body. I’m still working on it, but I’m no longer concerned with losing any weight. How I feel in my body is more important than any number on a scale, and that’s my choice. I’m not ever going to be happy with my body unless I decide to be happy with my body.
We can teach our daughters to love their bodies by loving our own, being positive, teaching healthy habits, being good examples, and showing them that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Think about what our daughters could do if they were the most self-confident generation of girls yet!