When I was in college, however many years ago that was (we don't have to get into numbers) I had an obsession with food. I obsessed over the amount of fat, the number of calories, how much sugar was in it.... Every time I ate, I would immediately head to the gym to try to burn it off. I became so obsessed with it that it just became easier not to eat it. I never became anorexic. I ate, but my meals were more like mini snacks. I remember a time that my roommate's (and BFF) parents came for the weekend to visit. They were going out to eat for supper and asked if I wanted to join them. "No thanks" I said, "I have already eaten" referring to my half cup of applesauce. I remember waking up in the middle of the night in pain, because I was so hungry. I would force myself to go back to sleep, while secretly feeling good about the fact that I once again was able to push aside that feeling of hunger. I don't know that I was super tiny, but I do know that my weight was not healthy for me because I lost my period for about a year. Instead of this worrying me, I instead felt proud that it was all steps to becoming a smaller me.
So why I am sharing this with you? A few years after I got married, the hubby and I started talking about having kids. I had gotten over my obsession with food, but my biggest fear was that I would have a girl and that I would inadvertently pass on this feeling of having a negative body image. I knew I would never ever speak words to her about her body being one way or another, but I knew that children at a young age look to their parents with how to think and feel about things and I was terrified that she would see me obsessing about something not fitting right or overhear me talking to someone about how I was trying to lose weight. This was such a fear that it grieved me to think about it. Of course, when I did become pregnant and I found out that it was a girl, I knew that it was up to me to help instill in her the confidence of being a female; to see her body as vessel that allows her to do things, be strong, and enjoy life. She is almost four now. Her dad and I tell her every single day how beautiful she is. We absolutely never talk about weight, good or bad. She's actually very small for her age and I try to even watch calling her skinny. I don't want her to ever feel like she has to be one way or another. I want her to know that she's perfect in every way. As she gets older, she will see things that will test her self confidence, no matter how much I try to shield her. My prayer is that she has had enough confidence built inside her that she will not feel the need to conform to what society says is beautiful. That she will know that she's beautiful. So instead, I talk about being healthy. When she sees me lifting weights and asks me why I'm exercising, I tell her it's so that I can stay strong. She has started asking if she can run with me. Not because she wants to be thin, but because she sees how much I enjoy it.
All this is good, but this morning she threw me for a loop while we were getting ready for work/school. I was putting on my lipstick before we left and she says to me "mommy, your lipstick is so pretty. Do you think that maybe someday I could wear lipstick?" "Kiddo, your pretty without lipstick" I say to her. Her reply? "So are you mommy!" OUCH! I've been so wrapped up in making sure she's confident in her body that I haven't even thought about the make up piece. Of course I'm not opposed to wearing make up. I never leave for work without it, but she has made me step back and contemplate some things. I don't want her to feel like she has to cover her face up to be beautiful. Sure, I know she's four and she's not thinking about all that. Right now, to her, it's just something fun that mommy does and she wants to do too, but how do I teach her to be confident in herself when mommy has to put her "face on" to go out? How do I teach her to know the difference in being confident in herself while also wearing make up and only feeling confident when she's made up? Does that make sense???? I gave her some chapstick and took her to school, but now she's got me thinking. Any of you mommies out there have any advice? With this crazy, messy world we live in, it's important to stick together and raise strong, self confident girls.
Thanks for reading y'all. It's been a while I know. Comments are always welcome!
This is a really, really good article that all parents of girls should read.