When I think about my daughter’s future, one of my main concerns is how she’s going to deal with the pressure society places on women’s appearances. I dread the day when she takes notice of the images of ultra-thin models and realizes that she may not be what the mainstream media has deemed as “beautiful”.
Today, women are more educated and more powerful than we’ve ever been. We’re doctors, CEOs, government officials and world leaders, but we continue to be painfully insecure and critical of ourselves when we look in the mirror, all thanks to the continued pressures to be thin and our own inability to accept our bodies for what they are.
We still have problems accepting various, unique forms of beauty, despite the fact that no two real women are the exact same shape, color or size and it makes me wonder: if we’ve managed to break so many glass ceilings and overcome so many obstacles, why can’t we get past our body image issues?
The answer continues to elude me, but after I had my daughter, I became more focused on attempting to uncover the great mystery behind women’s self-image issues. I realized that, in order to teach my daughter how to be confident in her own beauty, I had to be confident in mine.
Unfortunately, I never thought of myself as beautiful.
I’m not a petite woman at all. I’m very tall, and that was something I struggled with since I was mercilessly teased as a child for being the tallest person in every class until high school. My height insecurities cleared up just in time for me to head to college and begin struggling with weight issues.
I remember getting ready to go out to a party with my girlfriends, and we’d be getting all dolled up while criticizing ourselves.
“Ugh! I hate my thighs!”
“Geesh! What’s with my love handles?”
“My arms look like flags.”
“My nose is too big.”
That same type of self-deprecation happens in bedrooms and bathrooms across the country every day. Whether it’s out loud or in the recesses of our minds, many of us are completely comfortable with pointing out every single one of our flaws, but the moment we’re asked to pay ourselves a compliment, we’re unable to comfortably do so. I’ve been known to blush or quickly change the subject.
I want to help guard my daughter against an unhealthy body image by showing her a mommy that sincerely believes in her own beauty, but like I mentioned before, I never thought I was beautiful. I had been bullied and teased into believing I was anything but “pretty” and I couldn’t find one picture in a magazine that I could relate to.
I realize that, although it would be nice of our media to stop calling size 6 women “plus-sized”, it’s not entirely their responsibility to help women feel good about ourselves. That starts at home.
Every day, I tell my daughter how gorgeous she is. It’s my hope that this simple gesture will do a small part in helping build her immunity against any outside factors she will encounter as she grows into womanhood.
Aside from reminding her how beautiful she is, I’ve decided to work on myself. I want her to know that real women, like her mother, can love themselves and fully believe in their own beauty without being a size 0.
In college, I tried to lose weight to please others.
Now, I’m losing weight to please myself and be a good example to my daughter.
My new mission is not to become a certain size or look a certain way…it’s to be healthy. I want to eat foods that are good for me, run a 5K, and live a long, active life free of preventative diseases. More importantly, I want my daughter to know that I think I’m beautiful so that self-esteem and positive self-image won’t be a foreign concept to her, as it was to me and thousands of women in this country.