My husband and I from the beginning of our kids’ lives, promised we would never body-shame ourselves in front of or near them. This was and is something we are extremely passionate about, simply because we realize the detriment it can cause on children, and how it can greatly shape their adult lives.
Especially the F word, and no, Y’all, not the four letter one; the three letter one.
It’s not something we ever say about ANYONE, and we have worked hard to give our kids a healthy understanding of that word. The word itself, fat, is not neccesarily a bad word, unless used in a derogatory way against or about a person. I haven’t been one who has struggled with weight problems, but trust me, I have plenty of other critiques that I have about and against my appearance. For instance, recently I have been experiencing super puffy under-eyes. They’ve been more prone to swelling, to my eyelids drooping more than usual, and I have often looked completely sleep deprived and exhausted because of that, even though I am not. I think allergies have had a huge part in that, among I’m sure, other things (ahem, like being 30, and my skin just changing as I age!) I just experienced a huge slap in the face and broken heart over the fact that I have been WAY too verbal about my dislike regarding my eyes…………….
Reese went into the bathroom to brush her teeth, and her Dad was with her. Stepping onto the stool to rinse her brush, she peered into the mirror. We heard her say, “I don’t like this light in here. I don’t like seeing my freckles.
Asa and I looked at each other in disbelief. “Reese Elisabeth,” we said. “Your freckles are BEAUTIFUL! YOU are beautiful. God made your freckles and you are pretty special because of that.”
My husband sent me a private text message, so that she couldn’t hear what was said. “I wonder where she heard that…” he sent. At first, I was kind of annoyed and upset by it, but the truth is, I was ashamed. Just the other day I stood in that same bathroom and told Asa that I couldn’t stand the light in there (he had switched the light bulbs) because I hated how my eyes looked. I had no idea Reese was anywhere around, I thought she was downstairs at the time. But if I’m being honest, I don’t know if I would have censored that sentence because to me it didn’t really feel ‘body image’ related. But it was!!
As I tucked Reese into bed that night, I asked her if she had ever heard Mommy talk meanly about herself. “Yeah,” she said. And then she literally grabbed my face with her two hands to say, “I heard you say you didn’t like your eyes when they were swollen.” She continued down a rabbit hole after that, and none of what she said afterward really pertained to that question, but there it was: she had overheard her Mommy talking meanly about herself.
I paused her and took her hands. “Reesie, I am so sorry I said that. The truth is, I don’t like it when my eyes are swollen or puffy, because that’s not how they normally look. But honey, I love myself because God made me, and HE loves me. He doesn’t like it when I say something mean about the way that I look, because He is the one who created me.” I then told her that God made HER too. And that I hope and pray that she always loves herself—her freckles, her eyes, her hair color. I hope that she has confidence in how strong she is, brave, smart, and talented too. Really, Y’all, my heart just felt sad.
Your kids?Or your friends’ kids?! They are LISTENING. Even if they aren’t close by, they can hear you. They are WATCHING how you look at yourself in a mirror. Or if you avoid the mirror completely. They notice that. They are also listening to how you speak to other adults ABOUT yourself.
Your conversations are no longer JUST your conversations.
You are in charge of raising tiny little people who will grow up someday to be big people, and more likely than not, mothers and fathers themselves.
What are you saying? Are you talking about your weight or how fat you are? Do you openly talk about how unsatisfied you are with the number on the scale, or how you need to workout to look better? Fitness is not a negative thing. I am not saying it’s wrong to strive to lose weight or to be in better shape—but I do think it is important how you word it. “Mommy goes to the gym to be STRONG, Baby. I want to be healthy and to have a healthy heart and body!” When Asa and I want to get in better shape, we work hard. We run on the treadmill, lift weights, walk around the neighborhood; and our kids watch us. Pierson loves to work out with his Dad and is constantly trying to be “strong like Dad.” Reese will dance to music in the room I am in while I run on the treadmill. She will yell, “Good job, Mom!” as I go.
So I’ve realized…we may air on the side of caution REALLY well when it comes to fitness goals and being healthy, however, I do NOT love myself well enough in front of my kids when it comes down to overall appearance. I was always the kid with acne. Bright red, painful acne. Mirrors were ALWAYS hard for me and truthfully, still to this day they are. I don’t struggle with acne as MUCH or in the same capacity, but I still don’t love looking at myself. Did you know I get ready in the dark 1.) because I hate bright light in the morning but 2.) because I literally don’t like looking at myself in the mirror after I have first woken up?
What does that teach my daughter? My son?
Sisters and friends, we can do better. We SHOULD do better. I talked on my Instagram stories recently and asked my lady friends for some advice, on how they hope to instill positive self-love in their children/future children. I had so many great direct messages and responses, and I wanted to share a few of them with you here. Click the photo to check out their social media accounts!