A few years ago when my eldest daughter, who is now 9, was about 3 years old we were looking through old family pictures. After about 45 minutes she started to get frantic, pacing back and forth and started crying and saying, “where is mommy? I can’t find her!” and she broke down and sobbed over and over again, “where is mommy”?!?! My husband and I both jumped off the couch and I grabbed her and I said, “I’m right here, I’m right here!” She looked at me, her big beautiful blue eyes, red and swollen from crying in those few short minutes, a small shutter went through her body and she got out of my lap and walked to the television. Looked back at me she banged on the TV with her little hand and said, “WHERE IS MOMMY?!?”
The world stopped spinning for me that day, the house was dead silent and a pit in my stomach grew that I could have swallowed the entire universe. I wasn’t there. You see I was a professional photographer and I was not in any pictures and my three year old called me out on it. I had no legacy because in images I never existed! That day was a turning point for me.
Looking back I never had positive body image, I always felt heavy, to round, too curvy, too heavy chested. Knowing what I know now I can trace back to where those ideas where imposed on me and with that knowledge I chose to do better for my daughters. I worked really hard for the last 6 years to learn to love myself and embrace my body and what it has done. I slowly stopped hiding and have allowed myself to be photographed with my girls, even in a bathing suit!
What I can say is that at 37 years old, my heaviest weight in my life, I am the most comfortable in my body and who I am. That is no easy feat. I’m not saying i’m happy at my weight but that I love and accept myself for who I am. I eat healthy foods that fuels my body and nourishes my soul but I could probably work on moving a little more and getting out from behind my computer- baby steps. I accept myself and my thoughts, ideas and opinions even when it goes against the grain. I put my mental and physical health first and schedule in self care and time to recoup. When I’m tired I’ve learned to slow down and little by little, baby step by baby step I have started to build and create a BODY IMAGE LEGACY for myself and my girls that I am proud of.
Because mama, at the end of the day, it is up to US to create the body image legacy in our home. You can’t tell your daughter to love herself and her body if you aren’t doing the same. You can’t expect your daughter to run, tumble and jump in the sun in a bathing suit if YOU aren’t doing the same. You can’t expect your daughter to stand up for herself and speaker her truth IF YOU AREN’T DOING THE SAME! So what is your Body Image Legacy? Are you proud of it? Do you need to make some changes? Have you never even thought of it and are feeling overwhelmed and stressed? Don’t worry because it is NEVER too late to REDEFINE your body image legacy. Here are 5 awesome tips below you can start implementing today!
- VERBALIZE- Verbalize out loud at LEAST 1X per day something that you are good at and Love about your body! I love that I’m tall that I can reach things without a step stool, I love how strong my legs are, I can help carry things and don’t need anyones help. I love that I can be goofy and make people laugh. I love that I’m a good listener and it makes people feel better. I love my freckles that they liven up in the summer sun. I love that my hands are small, I can open things in hard to reach places. I love how my body is soft and round and curvy, I am a great snuggler. I love that my body has carried two babies and birthed them, what power in that. I love how smart I am and never stop learning. And On and On. What a child hears becomes their internal monologue. What a mother states out loud becomes behavior that a child will model. What kind of language and behavior do you want your child repeating?
- ACCOMPLISH – Talk about what your body has helped you accomplish. We want to shift this narrative about our bodies being things to look at instead of things that help us accomplish goals. I love that my body allowed me to help save peoples lives when I was a paramedic, I love that my body grew and created two babies. I love that my body allows me to dance and play and run and make memories with my children and friends. I love that my body allows me to think and solve problems and help others in their lives. I love that my body allows me to hug people when they are sad and bring them comfort.
- CHALLENGE – Do one thing that challenges your comfort zone and level with your body. So you might not be ready to go out in public in a bathing suit. For me, I was told and always thought my arms were too large so I never wore tank tops, I started there and let me tell you it was a full blown hyperventilation moment, but I did it and let me tell you it’s so much cooler! Do you refuse to leave the house without makeup on? Try it one day or maybe your baby step is to just do mascara and lip gloss. Do you wake up every morning and spend 2 hours flat ironing your hair? Use those two hours and sleep in or do something fun and rock your curls or waves. What can you do to start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with your body? Do it with practice it becomes easier.
- WHO ARE YOU – Stop focusing so much on your body and others bodies but on WHO THEY ARE or WHO YOU ARE as a person. Start describing or verbalizing people by their actions so instead of describing someone as the bald man with the red shirt we can say so and so’s brother who loves to cook. We need to shift the narrative away from describing people on what they look like and base things on WHO they are.
- DOCUMENT– And lastly, and one of the MOST important is DOCUMENT your Legacy. Be photographed. Make it a mission to be captured to create a physical legacy for you and your children to show the world that you were here and laughed, cried, had fun, helped others, and changed the world. Start a 30 day project where you do a selfie doing something fun everyday with your children. Have professional photographs be done ,just MAKE SURE you can prove to everyone that you existed and that you had fun because at the end of the day THAT is what your children will remember. They will not remember your muffin top or stretch marks but they will remember how you played on the beach or pool or swang on the swings with them and if they are lucky enough you will have the pictures to prove it!