When I became the mom of three girls, I realized that I have a very important job to do. I need to show … not just tell … my daughters how to be confident women who stick up for each other and know their self-worth.
Looking back on my own childhood, the one thing that always hindered my ability to go for what I wanted or defend what was right was the way I viewed myself physically. I was a chubby kid who felt uncomfortable in large groups of my peers. I didn’t want to be noticed for anything because then people would look at me. And if they looked at me, they would notice my double chin or that my shorts ride up my inner thighs when I walk. I loved to sing and dance, but I never felt confident enough to really put myself out there.
At the end of high school, I finally figured out how to lose the weight and get healthier. By college, I was much more confident. And since not many people in my life at that time knew the overweight me, it was almost like I had never been that way. Then, the pregnancies happened. Having 3 kids in two years really took it’s toll on my body, and finding time to work on my health as a new mom has proven to be far more difficult than I ever could have imagined.
So, here I am today, right back where I started, but now I’m responsible for teaching three little girls to be comfortable with how they look and to not let it get in their way. I remember the first time my oldest saw me naked and was aware enough to comment. Her eyes lit up, and she told me she loved my headband. My husband made a joke about my headband being the first thing he notices when he sees me naked, too.
It got me thinking, though. How would I respond if someone complimented my headband? I would say thanks and probably tell the person where I got it or how inexpensive it was (because I love a good deal). Why can’t I do the same for my body? Instead of responding to “You look great!” with “Ugh, my stomach is rolling over my pants as we speak,” I could respond with “Thanks! I carried two babies at one time with this body, and my girls love to use my fluffy belly as a nap pillow.”
Then, she started asking me questions about my body. I wanted to throw on a towel and change the subject. Instead, I answered her questions. “Yes, you have to get breasts when you’re big. No, it didn’t hurt.”
As I got dressed, I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve never walked away from a conversation about my body and felt this good. There was something so freeing about discussing my body like it was an accessory I had picked up along the way, as opposed to an ugly stain that won’t wash out.
I’d like to say that this interaction changed how I feel deep down, but I think it might be too late for me. I haven’t had less wardrobe-related meltdowns, and I still avoid catching my reflection in windows and mirrors.
The one thing I have changed is what I let my girls hear. I’ve made a conscious effort to not talk about my mom bod or anyone else’s bod in front of my girls, and I answer every one of their ridiculous and embarrassing questions the same way I would talk about my new shoes. “Yes, my butt is bigger than yours. No, you can’t watch me poop with it.”