I have 3 daughters and I want to raise them to love their bodies. I want them to have a healthy body image. I look at them and I think they’re beautiful. But I also think they’re going to be built like me. I mean, my oldest is only 5 so who knows. But the thing is, I can’t imagine ever thinking they aren’t beautiful, even if they are built like me.
I feel pretty certain that my mom looks at me and thinks I’m beautiful. No matter what.
So why don’t I feel that way myself?
I went through this phase where I was watching a lot of stand-up comedy and there’s a lot of material out there about women’s bodies. I mean, I know what goes on in my own head about my body, I’ve talked about it before. Recently I was at an event, sitting around a table with a group of women I didn’t know and the topic of body image came up. Everyone had something they didn’t like about their bodies. Everyone.
Why do we all have something we don’t like about our bodies???
I don’t have an answer.
I know that I have a strong tendency to compare myself with other women. Just the other day, we went to a thing at my daughter’s new school. I was standing around a playground with tons of other moms and I felt like it was some kind of audition. And the really sad thing is, I was so jealous of the women that looked really good that things like “Oh, she thinks she’s so hot. She’s too good for us so she’s just looking at her phone.” were going through my head.
On the one hand I want women to feel good about themselves and take care of themselves in a way that shows it. On the other hand, if someone looks “too good” it makes me mad because I don’t feel like I look that good.
There’s no way to win.
I mean, it’s not a game. I know I’m a competitive person, but I am not in competition with these women, so why do I feel that way?
Again, I don’t know.
I know that the images we see in the media, in movies are not that realistic. I know that women have a million choices to make about how they look. Where they get their hair cut, how they style it, what products they use, where they buy their makeup, how they apply it, what kind of clothes they wear and on and on.
And somehow we all sit here thinking “I wish I had her _____”. Meanwhile she’s sitting there thinking the same thing about someone else.
We are all beautiful.
It’s not about our waist size or our cup size or whatever size you’re worried about. It’s not even about the clothes or the makeup you wear. It’s more than that.
But it’s so hard to accept that in real life.
It doesn’t have to be a comparison. We can each be beautiful in our own right.
Maybe that’s the problem, the comparison? Or is it that I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin? Why do I feel like something about me needs to be different for me to be beautiful?
My husband loves the roundness in my belly that comes from having 3 kids in the last 5 years. He doesn’t ever criticize my body, he only says positive things about it.
I would never criticize my daughters’ bodies.
So maybe it’s time to stop criticizing mine.
I try to tell myself that I’ve grown, birthed and fed 3 humans with this body. That’s crazy! But it doesn’t really help change how I feel about it.
I still sometimes wish it were different.
But now instead of trying to change my body, I’m trying to change my thoughts.
Melissa Camara Wilkins wrote a post she called What I Want My Children to Know About Body Image and her message is, your body doesn’t need to be bigger or smaller it just needs to be your own. That in our culture there seems to be one type of body that’s “best” and everyone should look like that.
But that’s not how bodies work. We have different hair and eye color. We have different size feet.
She says there is no best. “We aren’t all supposed to be the SAME. We’re all supposed to be OURSELVES.”
She also talks about noticing our feelings and asking if they match what we believe. Even just writing it down makes so much sense – of course there is no best and we aren’t all supposed to be the same. So when I notice myself having these feelings of not measuring up to someone else, I’ll just have to remind myself that we aren’t meant to be the same and neither one is best.
I want my message to my children to be that their bodies are just as they are meant to be too. It all starts with me though. I have to lead by example. So I will do my best. For me and my daughters.