Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On motherhood, self image, and raising our children

Image credit: thompsonwood on Flickr
When I look in the mirror, I don't see what I should. I don't see someone who's lost all their pregnancy weight and then ten-or-so pounds. I don't see someone who had to rummage through the garage and find the bin of jeans I swore I wouldn't go through until next summer.

That's what I should see, though, and I'm trying really hard.

I'm trying to be happy in my own skin. To accept myself and just roll with it. To realize that I look pretty damn good and to love myself no matter what.

Beanie will get more than enough societal influence on how she should look. I need her to know, from me, that however we look is just fine. More than just fine -- beautiful, perfect, wonderful. The best way for her to know that? To feel that way about myself. What message am I sending if I tell her she's perfect exactly the way she is, but don't feel that way about myself?

I've been thinking about this a lot as my mom is coming in to town for the holidays this week, my mom who is seemingly obsessed with her weight, what she eats, if she exercises, and on and on. I don't remember her being like that as I was growing up. Maybe because most of her life my mom hovered right around 100 pounds. I worry about the words she will use in front of Beanie, about the way she characterizes how she looks and how & what she (and those close to her) should eat. Beanie may only be three-and-a-half, but words, especially words from those closest to her, have great power and I want those words (and underlying attitudes) to be supportive of good health -- physical, mental and emotional health.


  1. This is something I worry about very often. There's days I am completely ok with myself... I may even sometimes be proud of the way I look. But the days where I sigh that I've gotten wrinkles, and that my belly isn't what it should be are much more often.
    Using this post in the next Sunday Surf

  2. I think this is a struggle for many moms, and it is good that you are taking the time to consider how you want to change that. I hope you can find a way to help your daughter see the beauty in all shapes and sizes :) good luck with your mom!

  3. This is going to sound sexist, because it is - I never really worried about this that much until I had a daughter. My daughter is 8 months old now, but I realize that I need to start training myself to 1. Stop using the word "fat" in reference to myself (I still have 11 pounds of baby weight that I can't shake, but I'm still right at 140. Not bad.) and 2. Stop saying how much I *HATE* exercising. I had body image issues as a kid, still do, obviously, and there is nothing worse as a preteen than feeling like your appearance isn't good enough. I never want my daughter to feel like that - at least, not because of me.

    Hang in there - I have the same experience with my mom. She barely eats and talks about working out all.the.time. Always talking about food and weight. Ugh. There are more important things.

  4. I thought a lot about this last year in relation to my morning "make up/ hair" ritual when I realized that my daughter was witnessing this daily event. I still struggle the example I set but try to remain either neutral or positive in reference to my own appearance and body. We also try to focus on what our bodies can do for us (strong legs to run and jump).

  5. I think it's so much easier to be gentle with other people then it is with yourself. You would never tell your friend that they were fat, but it's so hard not to say that to say that to yourself.
    We are none of us perfect, but we are all beautiful. Treat yourself like the precious gift you are.

  6. My four-year-old just asked me, "Why do you need makeup?" - two days ago. The questions that she has been asking lately are blind-siding me. It's good to have an idea of how you'd like to approach this. I struggled with body image issues (and even a short-lived eating disorder) in my late teens and early twenties. I can honestly say that I am happy in my own skin now, but I'd like to spare my daughters from this pointless, self-inflicted pain if I can.

  7. While I wish I could boast your weight-loss (I'm only down 12 lbs and Liam is 6 mos old tomorrow), I too am struggling with being "okay" with myself. I eat a healthier diet than 99% of America, exercise at least 4 days a week, and am only 8 lbs medically "overweight." I can also relate to the 100 lb mom. I have one too and she always brags about how thin she is...bleh.

    Good luck with your mom.

  8. I don't remember when mom got that way either. Weight and body image is something I have struggled with since I was 12 or so. I seemingly "developed" over night and couldn't figure out where my skinny straight up and down body went to! And while it obviously was no ones fault, it was really hard on me being a size 9-ish growing up with a sister who was a size 3! ;) But after putting myself on liquid diets, trying to just plain not eat, and other self inflicted traumas I decided just to eat. And, while I may have significant weight to lose right now I'm confident that it's something I can do.


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