At about the age of twelve, I clearly remember thanking my mom for making me “short and squat”, because it relieved me from the pressure of entering beauty pageants. She laughed at me then but, looking back, I am truly glad the mix of her genes and my dad’s created me, just as I am.
As I journeyed through the high school years, I will admit to battling with this. As everyone around me grew taller, thinner and more intent on becoming model-like reflections of the people we’d see in magazines, I just grew hips and bosom. Many people around me dabbled with diet pills, crazy eating plans and, sadly, a dear friend even endured the horror of anorexia. I don’t think she was the only one. I only found out, much later on in life, that my very own mom had anorexia.
With my curvaceous butt and height like a hobbit, I’m never going to grace the cover of Vogue but, what I do have to do – not just for me, but for my daughter – is grace the cover of this life and my parenthood, with self-love.
I realise I have a heightened awareness of this, because I’m petrified that an eating disorder could invade my daughter’s life – it did for my mom! I think there’s also something to be said about the overwhelming need within me, to be okay with what I see in the mirror every day. It’s not just about me anymore – because what parenting has taught me, is that kids will learn everything from you, and it’s not what you’re saying, it’s what you’re doing.
The idea that my own perception of my body directly communicates to my daughter how she sees her own, and nothing brought that home to me more, than the night she asked me to read her the number on the scale that displayed when I stood on it.
I will admit that, the first time, I did the wrong thing. I said: “ooh, I don’t really want to say that out loud” and she, in her cherubic innocence, questioned me, saying “but it’s just a number”. I thought about that moment for the next 24 hours.
When we were in the bathroom the next evening, she hopped onto the scale and proudly yelled out her number. Following her lead, I did the same, even though I felt wobbly and weird about it.
“Mom, what a beautiful number”.
There’s a lesson in there, that I want her to know and never forget. Yes, the scale tells us a number that signifies our body’s weight, but that number doesn’t define us – it is just the indicator for the body we’re in. Scales cannot calculate our spirit, worth or capabilities so they can’t and should not control or scare us. They just show us numbers, but the true worth of ourselves cannot be shown on a scale.
And, every day that I look in the mirror, worry about the extra layer on my hip or booty on my butt, is one more day that I’m robbing myself of the ability to just love the body I’m in. I won’t let my own mind steal a day from me, and I won’t let any of those days be stolen from my kid. My daughter’s journey of loving herself and the creation of her inner voice starts with me, so I’m saying my number out loud.
And I know that the Dove Self Esteem Project peeps will join me in saying this – lets ditch our negative inner monologue and work on our own self esteem – not just for us, but for our kids too. Check out the Dove Self Esteem Project here for fab resources relating to developing and maintaining a positive self esteem, even when life throws its numbers and obstacles at us!