I have a daughter. But you all already knew that.
My daughter is 3 ½. You most likely already knew that as well.
Did I mention that I have a daughter? She's 3 ½ and VERY aware of everything that I do down to the most trivial twirl of hair to more important matters like cussing at bad drivers.
Having a daughter is scary. Really, it is. You see, having a daughter means that I HAVE TO be very diligent about how I feel about my body, how I reference my body, how I look at my body, and how I display my body. My view of and the emotions tied to this view of my body will ultimately reflect in how my daughter views HER body.
God help me.
I am not always a big fan of my physical structure. What I like and what I dislike seems to change depending on my mood and which mirror I am looking in. (Yes, some mirrors are a lot more forgiving than others.)
Some days I am too tired or busy to even acknowledge the image staring back at me. But for the most part, I critique my form daily. It is a hard habit to break. It really is.
I wrote a heartfelt post about how my daughter doesn't care about what I look like. If you haven't read it, you really should. Not tooting my own horn but it probably will give you some food for thought.
I, along with most of you, grew up in an appearance obsessed culture. Magazine covers scream from the newsstands with messages that convince us that we weigh too much, that our stomachs are not flat enough, that our butts jiggle too much, that our hair isn't thick enough, that our breasts are saggy, and that in only 5 minutes per day, we too can look like the hottest celebrity.
Pardon me if this next statement is rude, but the only thing that takes 5 minutes per day is throwing up all the food you ate in an effort to stay thin. Seriously folks – there is no 5 minute quick fix to the perfect body. (And if you are battling and eating disorder, PLEASE get help. Please!)
And what the hell is the perfect body anyway???
When my daughter is older and the realities of an appearance based society hit her, this is what I want her to embrace as the perfect body:
- A body that is well nourished, through real foods prepared from scratch with love.
- A body that is neither too big nor too small but just right at any size.
- A body that doesn't have saggy or jiggly parts but rather a body that is unique in its features.
- A body that grows and changes, expands and contracts, that withstands the test of time.
- A body that allows you to live life.
Our physical vessel must be well cared for. We must treat it like the temple that it is. And this means embracing every square inch of it as OURS.
It doesn't matter what someone else looks like. Just because her body is bangin' doesn't mean she is happy inside. It doesn't mean she is healthy inside. It doesn't mean people respect her. It doesn't mean she respects others. It doesn't mean that she feels loved. It doesn't mean that someone truly loves her.
You can only accept as much love as you are able to have for yourself. I truly believe this. When you get caught up in your image, in the physical shape that houses your soul, you close the doors to really experiencing all that life and the life forces around us have to offer. You close yourself off to experiencing the world. When you are so self-conscious about what you are, you cannot allow yourself to be who you are. And really, the who is a million times more important than the what.
So this is what I model for my daughter. I model who I am with all that I am. And this is the best that I can do to instill a lifelong love of self in her.