For Myself and For My Daughters

I don’t have any female friends who don’t struggle with body image. I know I’ve wasted a lot of mental energy worrying about my weight. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I didn’t play team sports and wasn’t a natural runner, but I enjoyed gymnastics and dance, which translated well to then-popular aerobics, step classes, and Jane Fonda videos. The first time I joined a gym was in college, and looking back, those were the Golden Days of my physical activity. I had the time and the resources to exercise, and for the first time really understood the idea of pushing past a wall, and spending energy to get energy back. I loved the feeling of exercising, and I was in the best shape of my life!

Then came real life, and an office job. That was a time for working hard by day and playing hard by night, and not much else. Once I was married, exercise started to creep back in, but once kids came along all bets were off. Lack of sleep, time, and funds made exercise feel like an impossibility.

Then my babies grew to be toddlers, and I knew something had to change. Not just for me, but for them.

With a focus on my own health and the health of my two girls, I became determined to give them as much confidence in themselves as possible. I realize that one comment or incident is all it takes to set a girl down a self-conscious path… but I also know that I’m the biggest influence in their lives and that that won’t last much longer. So I made a deal with myself: NO DISPARAGING COMMENTS ABOUT MY BODY IN FRONT OF THEM. EVER.

At first that was pretty hard. I didn’t realize how regularly—and how casually–I was putting myself down, and focusing on the negative. But the more I modeled confidence, the easier it got (win-win!). Now, if one of my girls is in the room while I’m getting dressed, I make sure to say things like “I look great today!” or “I love how this dress looks on me!” One of my daughters once said to me, “Mom, your thighs are big!” and I replied, “I know, aren’t they great? They’re strong and they help me run. They’re a part of who I am!” And you know what she said? “Yeah!”

I also make sure they see me being active—choosing to be active–even in small ways. That’s been another win-win for me, as I am forced to carve out the time to exercise. I suggest taking the stairs where we can. I get out our bikes or our mitts and balls when there’s time. And when I go for speed walks on weekends I talk about how good it feels to be active and how important it is to be strong.

I may not be anywhere near the Golden Age, and I may not be able to single-handedly relieve social pressure or bring truth to advertising. But one thing I can control is modeling daily behavior that includes major positivity, a whole approach to health, and self-acceptance.

One step at a time…

One single comment

  1. Caroline says:

    Beautifully said . . . bottom line- how we think is how we feel. Think positive, be positive.

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