Black is my color. Not because it is my favorite color to look at but because it’s the color I look smallest in. I know I am not alone in this. Millions of women across the world feel the same way. And this is never more true than after the birth of a baby, or after a very long winter cooped up in the house power snacking or during perimenopause which I am now intimately acquainted with. The fact is that I have been trying to divorce those last 15 pounds for about 10 years now, which, by the way, just happens to be the age of my youngest child.
Normally, this doesn’t bother me too much. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about self-image and how our society pins labels on us. This is mostly because my 12 year-old daughter is in the middle of trying to figure this puzzle out and has been asking a lot of questions lately. I am alarmed to find that some of the questions are about classmates who have started bingeing and purging and other bad habits related to low self-esteem. Somewhere along the way, our girls are picking up the idea that they are not good enough just the way they are.
As moms, we learn the true meaning of unconditional love from the actual act of ‘momming’. We would jump in front of the proverbial train to save our kid’s life. It doesn’t get much more unconditional than that. And yet, in our society, we put all kinds of qualifiers on love. We see this every day in the conversations we have, the movies we watch, songs we listen to, etc. The message always seems to be ‘You are lovable when you look pretty, wear the right clothes, become athletic and perform like a pro, get the grades, keep your room clean, and on and on….
I’m wondering how much of this ‘not good enough attitude’ comes out of my mouth at home? How often am I too critical when I’m correcting her or looking at myself? How many times have I deflected a compliment because I didn’t really think I deserved it? How many unconscious ways have I shown her that I don’t think she or myself is good enough?
I know she is watching because the other day she said to me, “Mom, why do you wear so much black? Are you trying to be a Goth?” Luckily, I didn’t say “Because I’m too fat.” But who knows what has slipped out when I wasn’t really thinking? The bottom line is that our daughters won’t love themselves unconditionally until we, as moms, learn to love ourselves that way. Once we give ourselves the love we so willingly give our children, we won’t feel the need to correct all those external things about ourselves or them. Maybe then our girls can find some peace.
And instead of trying to make ourselves smaller to fit into the world’s idea of ‘right’, let’s emulate for our daughters what it means to show up BIG, as our own authentic, lovable selves just the way we are. And if that happens to be with an extra (__fill in the blank__) pounds, so be it.