Women who have struggled with their weight do this thing sometimes, and I do it too. I make off-handed comments about the imperfection of my body .* It’s a pretty obvious defense mechanism. I think, deep inside, there’s a piece of me that feels as vulnerable as I did when I was in fifth/sixth/seventh grade, when my body didn’t exactly conform to the clothing my mom and I bought at Marshalls or TJ Maxx. I’d spend all day wondering if everyone thought I was a gross chub-monster who had no right to be wearing anything but a full-body tarp/poncho hybrid.
Everything that ever happened in those years – success, good grades, friendships, hair catastrophes, depression, crushes – it all happened against a constant drumbeat of self-doubt. And it all came from feeling insecure about my rapidly changing body.
That was before I knew that people, in general, are too caught up in their own business to even care what you look like, unless they are being mean. And if they are being mean – they probably have a whole story you don’t know about. And it’s probably a tough one.
But today, even as a happy adult who feels personally fulfilled, I can fall back into the trap of body insecurity. I can sometimes say things out loud, or type things on the internet that poke fun at myself. I’m trying not to though, and I’ll tell you why. My kid.
I don’t have any control over what she’s going to experience during her school days, but I can try to give her the gift of a mom who only ever expresses joy and appreciation about her body. I want that to be the norm in my house.
Here are a few things I can think about to help that process along.
- My arms are strong and I can hold that kid all day. I would if she’d let me, but she doesn’t let me. She’d prefer to run around.
- The milk from my breasts fed and nourished her for the first year (and change) of her life. THAT’S A LOT OF MILK, THANKS BREASTS.
- You won’t catch me in short shorts, but my legs let me run after her, or for myself.
- My belly made room for a human being inside it. That’s flexibility.
Sure, motherhood has a big something to do with this line of thought. All I know is this – the best thing I can do for my kid’s perception of her body, is to love my own and show appreciation for what it can do. The worst thing I can do is verbally abuse myself.
I know that I can’t manage her experience, but I want her to build science fair projects, have crushes, decide if and when she ever wants to take dance class – with nothing playing in the background but the steady beat of confidence and optimism, and the quiet knowledge that she’s perfect just the way she is. Me too.
* Healthy eating, exercise, all that good stuff, is vitally important, this is definitely not designed to contradict that. Still on Weight Watchers, still counting those points, still want a cheeseburger…