A few weeks ago, I was with Bree at her MyGym class and she discovered herself in the mirror. She could not get enough about what she saw. She has seen herself in the mirror before so I don’t know if it was because it was a full length and she could get super close or what but she didn’t want to leave it alone and couldn’t stop smiling.
It made me stop right then and there with hope that she is always be happy with what she sees in the mirror. It’s so hard as women to do that especially with the stereotypes of who we should look and act. We have come a long way in a lot of ways and uniqueness is more beautiful than ever but that doesn’t always change how we feel on the inside. Self-love starts from within and it’s often a complicated relationship to develop.
When I found out I was going to be a mama, body image, confidence, and self-love was something that crossed my mind. Whether I was to have a son or daughter, I wanted and still want them to be confident within their own skin. To be healthy and have a healthy relationship with their body. If they aren’t happy with what they see or how they feel, work towards becoming more comfortable in a healthy way to be strong and confident. When I had a boy first, I had a temporary sigh of relief because while boys aren’t immune to body confidence and image issues, it’s typically a little less complicated.
When I found out Bree was a girl, the angst and anxiety set in a little. I have come a long way in working on the words I say to myself and how I feel about my body and knew that it would be important to continue to use healthy words to describe myself in front of and about my babies. Reinforcing strong and not heavy or fat. Talking about what their bodies are capable of not just what they look like. One more thing to be mindful of as a mama, learning from my own childhood.
As I’ve mentioned before, I had a pretty good childhood but my weight and how it was communicated (or lack thereof) was one of the less positive memories. My mother is 5’4″ with a petite build and my father is 6’3″ with a larger, solid build. I take after my father’s side. I am 5’8″ and was 5’5″/5’6″ when I was in fifth grade. Always taller than most of the boys and loved (and still love) giraffes because they were tall like me.
I wasn’t the tall and skinny type. Being Italian, food was always available and pasta was my blood type. Portion control was not monitored so I had more of a belly than a young kid should have. I remember being 7 or 8 and feeling fat in dance class in my leotard and realizing that I didn’t want to dance anymore (something that I loved) because I was bigger and fatter than the other girls. That’s not how a 7 or 8 year old should feel and that’s certainly not how I want my daughter (or son) to feel. My emotional eating habits were developed during a time when we had a lot of deaths in our family and the adults were dealing with their own grieve so I turned to food for comfort, something that came back to haunt me in my 20s and still returns from time to time.
My mother tried to help me in a somewhat passive aggressive way. She signed me up for essentially a nightly fat kid class, Shape Down, in an effort to help me lose weight but really didn’t discuss it with me. It was something that made me feel worse about myself than better, even if I did lose a little weight and learn a little about what food should go in my body and why. It was short term because the knowledge didn’t end up carrying over and I had an unhealthy relationship with most food for the longest time, sneaking sweets and treats that should bought for my brothers that I couldn’t have, and starving myself at times to then binge. Thankfully I never took the purging route. I tried it a few times but I just couldn’t do it.
I know her intentions were for the best just fell short because of lack of appropriate communication. and there was some good that came of it-the start of my swimming career. In an effort to be more active, I joined the swim team and fell in love with working out and exercise (most of the time or I should say as much as a pre-teen can). This was a love that lasted for 10 years and will always hold a large piece of heart. A love that allowed me to meet my sisters from other misters and learn some amazing life skills and for that I am forever thankful.
Anywho, I digressed a little, not like me at all😉😜
To say that navigating tough situations as a parent is hard is an understatement but I can only hope that I lead by example to show my babies how exercise and moving your body is a way and part of life, not a chore, and fueling your body properly helps you feel good. That exercise is empowering to feel healthy and strong and not a punishment to your body for what you ate. Through these two important routines, I’m hoping they will learn to feel confident about and happy with their bodies from an early age and never experience the feelings of feeling fat and shamed because of their feelings. Pre-teen and teen years are awkward enough as it is but by learning to love their bodies and uniqueness, it will make it a little easier.
Because after all, self-love is the best love and loving what you see on the outside starts from within ❤️