I’ve stolen the title of this post from the title of another article which was brought to my attention by Kate and I couldn’t help but write about it because it rang every bell in my head and some outside it.
First read the original post, and agree with me that’s it’s brilliant. That short text has taught me a lot about how to behave in front of my children, although I am already careful about appearance-based compliments and comments, I’m less aware of what I say about myself and I need to be.
Of course it’s not just about daughters but it struck a chord with me because the world is steeped in pinkification, the body beautiful and constant reminders that thin and beautiful is the only way to be. I am neither of these things and although at the moment I am striving to lose weight, it’s not to achieve ‘the body beautiful’ it’s to be healthier, more comfortable and happier in general. I’ve been worried about society’s obsession with appearance since well before I had my first daughter.
I think things can go too far, Jo Swinson said ‘Don’t tell your daughter she’s beautiful’ but of course I do and I always will because both of my daughters are beautiful. They’re beautiful in every way and they’re also clever, funny and slightly insane. I don’t think telling them they’re beautiful will cause body issues because it’s not the only thing they’re complimented for and it’s important that they believe they’re beautiful as much as they believe in their own intelligence whilst also recognising their weaknesses.
I have spent 90% of my memorable life feeling fat but no, I don’t blame my parents. I blame other people. I blame the bullies when I was 5/6, I blame the teacher who thought it appropriate to call me a ‘fat pig’ at the end of term party because I had two cupcakes instead of one (I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid to do that). I blame high school being hard and caring more about history than cigarettes, the two didn’t mix when I was 14. Constant inadequacy and wishing I could do things but lacking the confidence to do them is a lot to do with my body image and it’s something I refuse to pass on to my daughters. There are no photos of me and my mum anywhere and I am slowly trying to make sure there are at least a few of me and the girls, despite feeling very uncomfortable about it.
My body isn’t perfect but it’s not unbearable and I’m lucky enough to have daughters young enough that they still love me unconditionally and see me just as Mummy, which is perfect. As Kasey’s piece ends in the article:
Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.
I have got to learn to follow this mantra and more than anything follow my girls who don’t need their opinions swayed or changed on the matter. Be who you’ve gotta be.