This little incident happened today and I posted about it to Facebook:
It got this train of thought started …
I also absolutely love that my children look at me in the shower or when I’m getting dressed and compliment me on my belly (and when those compliments are about how squidgy it is, I can smile and enjoy it and not wince, not even on the inside).
Or when they tell me how beautiful my breasts are or my skin is, or .. well, just about any part of my body, but especially those parts I know most people (women) hate as I have done and that I now focus on as being beautiful, no matter how flabby or wrinkly or even saggy they might seem to me, because I love my body in spite of that. Maybe even because of that, actually.
“mommy, your [insert body part here] is *so* beautiful”
I hear it often and I love it, not because I need the compliments, but because it reminds me that I model body-love to my children. I don’t always feel it, but even on those bleugh days where I feel fat or old or ugly (thankfully so rarely now compared to ten or fifteen years ago!), I don’t badmouth myself in front of my children.
Our Bodies Are Different And Equally Beautiful
I talk about my body in positive terms, just the same way I talk about their bodies (as a parent I think my children’s bodies are exquisite!). This sounds so simple, but I can’t tell you how different it is from the way I was raised or the intense self loathing and shame I have had about my body or face for most of my life. I’m still a work in progress there, but overall, I think I’m doing pretty well, based on the reflections I see in my children.
Others Are Doing It Too
I read something recently about how we tell little girls how beautiful and perfect they are, while as women focusing on how unattractive and old we look: worrying about wrinkles and sagging jowls and bellies and breasts .. what does that tell them? That they’re beautiful as long as they’re young and all they’ve got to look forward to is becoming unattractive old women?
I Think I’m Doing Imperfectly OK
It made me glad to think that my children find me beautiful as I am because they hear me say it too and can feel that I believe it (and I really do, most of the time), and that they feel awesome about their own bodies. That they have heard this since they were born and it’s what seems normal to them.
That they think lines and wrinkles and grey hairs are beautiful, as beautiful as youth, and that the airbrushed images we see in magazines are the oddities.
I feel grateful that I have healed enough to model body love to my children.
How About You?
It’s not the first time I’ve thought about it. A while back, I saw this conversation on Facebook and it made me wonder, how is it that a child thinks of their mom as a ‘clown’ when she puts make up on, or calls their mom a ‘fat hippo’ in front of her friends? Does the mom say these things about herself? Or to her child? Or does the dad or someone else talk to her like that in front of her children? Maybe it’s just from TV and not addressed because it’s ‘comedy’?
I’m not even calling these specific moms out and if they see themselves, I hope they take this in the spirit it is intended, because I think it’s common in our culture and it felt important to speak of the feeling that comes through their posts to me: that it’s not ok, it doesn’t feel ok to them, but we all shrug and laugh it off.
And I want us as women, beautiful women with life etched onto our bodies to ask ourselves, how do we feel about this conversation?
To ask yourself how you want to feel about your body, and how you want your children to feel as they grow up?
How do you speak to yourself about your body?
What do your children think you feel about your body?
Just One Thing
If there is any one thing you could do to model body love to your children today .. what would it be?