What will you tell your daughter about her body?
First of all let me clarify that I do not yet have children.
I would like a few and I would of course love to have a daughter.
However, when I think about my own daughter growing up, going to school, my eyes well up and I get a dreadful churning in my stomach.
Because although I was confident and spunky as a young child I was ruthlessly teased all throughout school.
The first few years of school were great, I had good friends, great teachers, loved learning.
But when about grade 4 and 5 came along I was made very aware that I didn't look like most of the other girls at school.
I had a rounder face, and though I was a bit of a tom-boy, I wasn't interested in sports at all so I began to get just a little bit soft and chubby.
I wasn't overweight or abnormal by any standards, but for some reason a handful of kids, mostly boys, at school made it their mission to constantly put me down, call me names and tease me.
Their words began to cut deeper and deeper.
I remember feeling so helpless and hurt that I soon began lashing out, getting angry, using my fists to solve these problems.
I was scrappy and ended up in more than a few fights at school or on the bus home.
The teasing and name-calling continued into Jr. High.
This time, mean-spirited girls would make fun of something I wore, or my hair, or some not-so-perfect part of my body.
I was dreadfully hurt and angry but I no longer fought back physically.
I shoved my pain deep, deep down, burying it beneath layers of walls so I wouldn't have to feel that way all the time.
I did have great friends all throughout school.
Friends that I could count on to laugh with and have fun.
But most of them never knew how much other people were hurting me.
I also had an amazing family.
My Mom and I have always been close and she has always been an encourager and lifted me up when she knew I was down. Many times she breathed life back into my sails when someone else had knocked the wind out of me with their words.
It still hurt.
It still hurts.
It's taken me many years and many dark moments to get over some of the damage that was done to my innocent, young-girl confidence.
For years I constantly judged others because I felt constantly judged.
For years I compared myself to everyone because I thought that was what everyone was doing to me.
For years I became angry and bitter in response to many of the situations life threw my way...or the situations I thought I should have had that life didn't throw my way,
It's taken years to move past it, to dig it all up and let it all go.
I did it with God's strength and love, as well as the love of my family and friends.
It hasn't been easy and yes, sometimes, it still hurts.
If, one day, I am blessed with a daughter, these are the things I will tell her about her own body:
- That it is her body but God made it, He knows every hair on her head and knit her together piece by piece, and so she should treat her body well.
- That even when someone makes fun of how some part of her looks, she is still beautiful.
- That it's okay to have soft bits and hard bits.
- It's beautiful to be both strong and smooth around the edges.
- That as she grows up, she should do her best to know what is going on with her own body. Check what needs to be checked, keep healthy, don't ignore what her body is telling her.
- That she is unique. There is no one in the world that looks just like her and that is awesome!
- That flaws are not flaws, they are just the little ways that make us different and our own selves.
- That if she wants to, she can play sports, or dance, or swim, or sing, or try anything as long as she is happy doing it.
- That pushing her body and muscles until they ache is sometimes a good thing. Don't give up on something before that good ache.
- That she can use her body to express herself. And I would hope she would use it to express joy, life and happiness.
- That if she is my biological daughter, we are always going to be just a little bit shorter than everybody else. But I didn't mind always being the short one!
- That she should never compare herself to others. She will, but she shouldn't dwell on it. We are all beautiful in our own skins and it just wastes time enjoying life when we compare.
- That she shouldn't listen when she gets teased. She shouldn't let it ruin her day. She should try to bite her own tongue and be kind or walk away. Words can hurt but they don't define us. We don't know what struggles go on underneath someone's dark words.
- That I love her. I love her if she is short, or chubby, or slim, or tall, or with long hair or short hair. I love her because of who she is, inside and out.
- That she truly is beautiful!
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This month, a blogger I enjoy reading (brittanyherself.com) has set out some writing prompts for us fellow bloggers or writers to share our real-life stories. The theme for August is: Body Image, with 31 different topics to write about.