When I found out that one of the babies growing in my belly was a girl, I was elated. I instantly saw visions of pink and bows, and hopes for a tiny dancer just like her mama. When my daughter was born, she entered this world screaming, making her presence known to the entire birth floor at the hospital. That should have been my first sign that this one was going to change everything I had envisioned for our future together. Raising a girl has come with challenges I never expected.
Up until about three years ago, she had the most ridiculous amount of confidence and would sing and dance for anyone. She even did most of the talking for her twin brother, although that part has changed. However, one day I walked into the bathroom and caught her with her shirt up, examining her tummy. She looked at me with a sad face and informed me she was “fat.”
WHAT?! How does she even know what that means? Where did this come from?!
I had created this problem. Her fitness-obsessed mom had caused this sweet little girl to suddenly have insecurities about her tiny little body. As time would tell, she was constantly watching and taking in everything I did or said. While I made a mental note to back off the fitness train, the things I said about myself were still loud and clear. And incredibly unhealthy for a little girl to be hearing.
She heard me complain about my job, my weight, my skin, my hair…a lot of these things that – when you put us side by side – look eerily like hers. What was I thinking?
The truth is that I have battled self-esteem issues from a young age. Even at twenty-nine, they still flare up from time to time. During those incidents, I had somehow allowed myself to lose focus on what was important and in return, lost my innocent, confident little girl.
She turns nine soon and her little body is already starting to undergo physical changes. She wears deodorant and has asked some questions that I did not expect so soon. Her skin has some blemishes and she gets very insecure about them, as we all do. Then I’ll catch a glimpse of who she really is when she’s jamming to her favorite tunes in her room or when she smiles up at me during gymnastics.
Our world is full of body-shaming media, these young girls do not need it in their own home. We have daily discussions now about hygiene and I have helped her with fun hair tricks since I am not always home to help her get ready in the morning. I try to remind her that the celebrities we see on TV do not live the same average lives like the rest of us. We do not have the luxury of having a hair and make-up artist to get us ready every day.
It starts with us, mamas. We must love the skin we’re in, so our little girls do not know any different. I never knew it would take a miniature version of myself to teach me such a strong life lesson. And I’ll continue to work on this every day until it sticks.
So, rock your mom bod, make-up-less face and messy bun. You created a human life for goodness sake! One that is just as beautiful as her mom.