I had just picked my almost five-year-old daughter up from preschool and the phrase that came out of her sweet mouth sent a jolt of pain and disbelief through me.
after my disbelief, anger began to rise from the pit of my stomach following my daughter’s words: “Mom, my friend said I was fat.”
Disbelief and the all too familiar fear crept in; fear that my daughter has been shamed and her version of beautiful tainted before the young, impressionable age of five. Next, the same fear and hurt set in for the child who shamed mine. Where did she hear this from? Who has made her feel bad about her body? This is learned, not natural.
It’s then I realized, that as parents, we set the tone for our children. They are listening and watching. As moms, we are their version of beauty. That is until taught otherwise.
I’ll never forget the moment that I began to compare my body to that of other girls my age. I was at summer camp around the age of ten. I was never told I was overweight, and I believed my mom was the most beautiful human being on the face of the Earth. Yet, that hot summer afternoon, in my shorts, I realized my legs were built differently than other girls my age. I heard whispers of negative self-talk and body shaming. I was in disbelief, but then I, too, began to question if I fell into those “categories” that were being set by others.
Enter magazine covers, MTV, social media, etc. Everything seemed to revolve around weight loss and photo-shopped perceived ideas of what beauty should be. As social media began to make its rise in the early 2000s, so did the filtered versions of people we admired and looked up to, regardless of the fact that we knew, deep down, wasn’t real. Now, twenty-plus years later, the damage has been done.
As an adult, the distorted version of what a “healthy” body looks like has now inflicted negative self-talk. Do you know who is hearing this? Our children. Thankfully, our society is attempting to reverse the ‘one size fits all’ model standard by becoming more diverse in dolls, advertising, etc. We can become part of the solution by trying to raise our sons and daughters to love themselves and others just as they are.
This goes beyond size variances. Body shaming is not just about ‘big’ or ‘small.’ We are a diverse world. We need to embrace and love ALL body types, colors, and sizes. We need to practice SELF LOVE. By doing this we will teach our children to do the same.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing that she is different AND beautiful. I want her to appreciate the differences and beauty in others. These differences should be celebrated, not shamed! It starts with us parents. If we want to create a better world for our kids, let’s SHOW them. Give up the filters. Give up the negative self-talk, and the feelings of disbelief. Embrace YOUR beautiful!
And if you don’t have children, you can be a part of this movement as well. Show the real you. Love the real you. Abandon the disbelief. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Let’s believe it and show it. #LOVEYOURSELF #BEKIND