If Only... My Response to My Body & How It Impacts My Daughter
I stood in front of the mirror after my shower. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. Why wasn't I happy with what I saw. I sighed. "If only..." I muttered.
"If only what Mommy?" I jumped. I spun around to see a sleepy Addie standing in the bathroom door way. How much did she see? Did she see me grabbing the extra skin on my belly? Did she see me turning sideways and sucking it in? Did she see me roll my eyes as I touched the circles under my eyes or the acne on my chin? The frustration as I brushed my knotted hair. Did she see how angry I was at my body?
I thought about this moment for days after it happened. Would that moment impact Addie's views on her body? How would this shape her self talk? My hope is that this single moment will not impact Addie's body image or make her feel the need to critique every aspect of her body.
I couldn't allow that to be her narrative.
After much thought, I decided that I was going to do everything in my power so that the voice in Addie's head said something different. Every morning after Addie gets ready, I make her stand in front of the mirror. She looks herself in the eyes and says, "I am smart. I am kind. I am beautiful. I am loved. I am a child of God." About two weeks into doing this, she stopped in the middle and asked if Mommy would say it too.
Addie was able to repeat the statements so confidently. She believes them whole-heartedly. She knows that she is smart. She knows that she is kind. She knows that she is beautiful. She knows that she is loved. She knows that she is a child of God. It has become her mantra. She shares it with her stuffed animals and makes them say it in the mirror.
But could I? Could I say those statements to myself and believe them fully?
"Mommy, you say, 'I am smart. I am kind...'" I took a deep breath and struggled to look myself in the eyes. I didn't feel smart, or kind. I struggled to feel beautiful. I knew I was loved and a Child of God - like I knew that was the case, but there is a difference between knowing and really understanding and embracing those statements.
If you tell yourself something enough you start to believe it.
The anger toward my body started years ago. I didn't wake up one morning and decide that I didn't like my body, my skin, my face. It started as small. It started with little comments: "My hair looks weird today." "These pants make cut my belly off weird." "I have too many freckles." "I need makeup to hide that pimple." "If my hair was a different color or was curly, I would be prettier." "I am ugly." "I am worthless because I can't lose these extra pounds." "I am unlovable because I snapped at my partner."
Did you read those sentences? Read them again, they escalated. They became more definitive and more intense. I could go on a rant about the lucrative fashion and beauty standards that we allow to shape our perception of beauty, but that is a tangent for another time.
While standing in front of that mirror with my daughter, I realized that my reaction to her request could either confirm her beliefs in herself or cause her to question them. As her mom, I had the opportunity to model what I wanted her inner voice to be like.
So with a deep breath, I looked up and straight into my eyes, "I am smart. I am kind. I am beautiful. I am loved. I am a Child of God." This mantra has become Addie's daily affirmations, but it is also becoming mine. I still struggle with the critical voice, but when I realize I am being critical, I stop and instead start repeating these 5 sentences.
I want to be a role model for Addie. I want her to see a mom who is healthy, happy and loves herself fully - it started off, just so that Addie would see it modeled for her to follow suit, but I am realizing that repeating this mantra daily is shifting things in me. I am quicker to give myself grace. I don't shy away from mirrors or start nitpicking at my body.
I smile at the woman looking back at me. She deserves to know she is smart. She deserves to know she is kind. She deserves to know she is beautiful. She deserves to know she is loved. She deserves to know she is a Child of God.
You deserve to know and fully believe that you are smart, that you are kind, that you are beautiful, that you are loved, that you are a Child of God.
If this post resonated with you, if you read this and understood the struggle to look in the mirror and love what you saw back, I would love it if you shared this post on Facebook, or took a picture of the mantra and posted it on Instagram. If you could tag me in it, I would love to see just how far Addie's mantra will spread. I would love to hear how it has impacted your life and the lives you impact. As always, thank you for reading The Sunkissed Peach. It means more than I could ever put into words.