Teasingly, I turned to her while cooking in the kitchen, and said “Why didn’t you guys save any for me?” after hearing that Dad brought them home their favorite candy bars.
“Well there wasn’t enough for us and your big tummy”.
I stopped stirring. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her drop her head a bit. She knew. And I knew. I knew that she meant no harm by it. It was her teasing back and not thinking completely as to what she was actually pointing out.
If you have had children and struggle even the slightest bit with body image issues you know exactly what I was feeling in that moment. Part of me wanted to crumble as if I was back in elementary school when that one kid asked if I was a boy or a girl (thanks for talking my stylist into a pixie-cut for a seven year old, Dad). #TrueStory.
No matter what and despite all the crazy things your kids say, this one will forever and always catches you off guard. And it’s hard to take. I didn’t say anything while I overheard my husband tell her that her mother is beautiful and that we don’t say things like that. He walked past me and brushed his hand on the small of my back. He knows the tears I have shed over struggling to get my body back after four kids. He also knows how much I juggle day in and day out and that the teasing comments have happened one too many times in recent weeks. It is a damn vicious cycle us women have to deal with. And thank goodness for men like him and his presence in our home raising young boys and girls. The world could use more like him.
I decided not to say anything for a bit as I collected my thoughts. She quietly apologized and we went on to have dinner as a family. It was later that evening that I wanted to make sure not to miss this opportunity. This opportunity that was important for me as her mother, but also as a fellow female. I asked her to come up to my room with me and we jumped on my bed and got comfortable.
Assuring her first and foremost that what she said earlier was not meant to be hurtful and that I was not upset, she immediately relaxed and gave me a big squeeze. I then went on as we discussed the current trend in today’s society and that body shaming is a real problem. We talked about how women are held to impossible standards and that it matters so much more who someone is and not what they look like. It was a deep conversation and one that I could tell had her internalizing things. It ended with more hugs, a promise to always lift others and some giggles over the funny things that happened that day. I went to bed that night with that conversation on my mind as well as the two young women I am raising in our home. One who is eight and nearing that more mature stage in her childhood and the other who is three and so incredibly impressionable. I went to bed that night thinking about what I really want both of them to know in life as women. What really is important. And it would be this:
We women are amazing and powerful creatures. We are capable of so much and that is a wonderful and incredible thing.
My body has created four beautiful, intelligent and amazing little beings. I held each of you in my womb for nine months. My body was your only protection and while I have received “battle scars” from it and my body had to adjust in more ways than I ever thought imaginable, I would never take it back for anything. Because what I was able to do is more important than any size I used to be. The four of you are more precious to me than any physical attribute I had and have.
The world today is focused so much on someone’s outward appearance and think that is the measure of their worth. We see it on TV, the movies and advertisements. Women are expected to be everything while constantly compared to airbrushed magazine covers. They are harshly judged when they fall short and for what? Because they don’t have a thigh gap? Because their abs are not noticeably visible? Today’s society cares more about numbers than the person. They care more about squad goals than real goals. That is not the measure of one’s character or value. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel otherwise. And don’t ever make anyone else feel otherwise.
As you go through life, as you go through school, you will hear things or see things. You may even deal with things from other girls. You may be the center of someone’s disapproval or someone’s judgement. You may also at some point have the desire to point out someone else’s flaws. In those moments I urge you to remember what I am telling you. You have so much greatness within you. As does everyone. You are the direct product of something so incredibly miraculous and you are here on Earth to share your gifts with the world. Your value is not determined by a number on a scale. Or a number on a label stitched into your clothing. And your worth is not in anyone else’s hands.
Today, the world needs now more than ever, women who support. Women who believe and lift others up. Women who understand the divine nature we all possess and remind fellow women of it when their light has gone dim. You may still be young, but decide now to be that type of woman. Be the woman who will remind others of their value and greatness when they need it the most. Be the woman who will only speak of someone’s positive attributes and hold their hand as they learn to believe it.
Love each other for the individuals you are. Support each other no matter what paths you both decide to take in life because as sisters as well as women, you are part of a larger sisterhood in this world. Light it on fire with kindness, acceptance and grace. For others and for yourselves. And I promise I will do the same.
Never forget who you are and love others.
With all of me and more,