My daughter turns one in a matter of days. When I think on that, and when I look at her, all that I have gone through in this past year since her beautiful, perfect birth (Zao's Daddy being hospitalized when she was barely a month old, moving twice, acknowledging an eating disorder, acknowledging PPD/A) suddenly becomes a soapbox. I want to change the world for her. I know that to do this, I start with myself, and I start with my family and our home. I want her to be so strong that she never suffers from a distorted body image or disordered eating. I want her to understand in her core that she has a right to exist and live in her body as it is, whatever it looks like, that she already is beauty. She will always be beauty. I want her to understand that we don't have to internalize or accept what other people say about us; that just because something is said doesn't mean it is true, even if it is said by our entire culture. What we think about ourselves, and how we see ourselves, that is all that truly matters. I want to help her view of herself remain strongly positive.
As I said, most of that starts with me. It starts with my attitude about my own body, the words I use both in my head and on my lips about my magnificent person. No more bemoaning my short Eaton legs. (Mom, I know you at least understand what that means! haha!) I have powerful, STRONG legs. And they are beautiful. I remember that, every time I deadlift. ;) No more frowning at my soft tummy. I grew my babies in that tummy. Did you hear me?! LIFE grew within that soft, beautiful tummy. Two gorgeous, precious lives. Miracles. My soft tummy is an effing rockstar.
This isn't wishful thinking, this is changed thinking. This is me, standing up and saying that the media and the magazines and the models and the celebrity moms, are wrong. They are wrong about themselves, they are wrong about women, and they are wrong about me. They are wrong to perpetuate an ideal that few, or no one, can achieve, and that everyone feels subpar because of. Think I am over-reacting? Just glance at the assault as you check out at the grocery store. Just peruse health and fitness sites online. "Strong is the new skinny." (I hate that, on so many levels, for so many reasons...) "Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe the dedicated." "Real women have curves." "Sweat is fat crying." "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."
What an onslaught, from both sides: fat-shaming, skinny-bashing, no one is safe, no one is OK. I get angry at every single one of those catch phrases. Such lies! Manipulation at it's pinnacle.
"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Let me tell you, I ate a hell of a lot of food in culinary school that tastes way damn better than being skinny ever felt. In fact, I never felt worse than when I was skinny. Steak au poivre with a mushroom cream sauce deglazed with brandy, followed by creme brûlée tastes SO freaking good I honestly don't give a damn what the scale says, or what size my jeans are. Ice cream. That's really all I need to say right there. Ice cream dagnabbit!
But I didn't always own that. I am hoping, praying, that overcoming my weakness will be the base of my daughter's strength. I hope that by owning this knowledge now, I can help my daughter understand it from the get go.
To understand that however she grows, she grows beautifully.
That size and shape say absolutely nothing about her as a person. She hasn't failed if she's fat. She hasn't earned anything by being fit. We will not fuel fat-phobias, or skinny-bashing, in this house. We will celebrate our beauty. I want her to know...
...that being beautiful isn't all about hair and makeup. (But sometimes, it is. :))
...that being beautiful isn't just about character and compassion. Though sometimes, it is.
...that whether she loves exercise, or doesn't, has children, or doesn't, pursues a career, or doesn't, that despite size, height, wardrobe, or bank account, her worth and her beauty are constant, undeniably real and true, and she has every right to exist and live her life in her body, and her personality, as it is, out of the box.
I am trying, and I am working towards, this goal in myself. To be the strongest, healthiest version of myself, especially in my MIND. To live with passion, grace, and compassion toward the world, starting with myself.
Want to help me change the world? Let's start with ourselves. Next time you see your nemesis flaw, whatever it is, in the mirror, find a positive adjective for it. It may help to think about its FUNCTION, not just its aesthetic. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then behold your own beauty!
I'll end with these words by 180degree.com writer Julia Gumm (if you haven't checked out that site, by the way, go and do it now. Good stuff! Just don't read the comments :P) You can read the full article here. Bold emphasis is mine.
"There is a striking dissonance between how we treat the people we care about and how we treat ourselves. If you aren’t filing yourself under the “People I Love” category in your brain, you can be led to do lots of silly, painful things that deep down, aren’t going to make you feel any better. So the next time you stand in front of a mirror and sneer at your less than flat abs or get angry with yourself for having enjoyed a dessert, ask yourself why. Why is perfection so important? What does it matter and who does it matter to? Remember that exactly who you are has been crafted by eons of evolution and the passion of your ancestors. You are an incredible thing.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Behold. You are beautiful. Go forth from that place. Afford yourself the love and acceptance you grant those dear to you, dear. No one deserves it more than you. No really. You and those big honkin’ thighs of yours."