Carrying the Weight

As a mother, I am the number DW9A7444one influence on my daughter’s body image. Not the un-read fashion magazines spilling out of the basket next to our couch. Not the scantily clad models plastered on the windows of the Victoria’s Secret store we pass in the mall. Not any of that. Me. I have the ability to shape the way that my daughter will see herself, and her body, for her entire lifetime by the way that I guide her today. And really, that’s a pretty scary thought for me.

You see, it’s scary for me because for the majority of my adult life, and even more so since having my daughter, I have struggled with my weight and have been generally unkind to myself as a result. I have passed up opportunities to explore different career paths, for fear that people wouldn’t take me seriously because of the way that I look. I have missed parties, weddings, and even casual chances to socialize with friends because I couldn’t stomach the thought of having people see me at this weight. I have begun to see myself as the number on the scale, and not as the person who is standing on it.

My daughter is two, and one of her favorite things to do is sit with me and watch me get ready. She likes for me to dust her cheeks with iridescent powder as she has watched me do to myself, and sneak my chapstick off the counter. She likes to select my clothes with me…picking up items that I have let fall to the ground when I realize they no longer fit. She promptly stashes them in the hamper, and looks back at me for reassurance that she has done the right thing. I know she sees my frustration. She likes to compare our bellies as I get dressed. She runs her soft little fingers across my stomach, tracing the stretch marks that create a road map down my abdomen. I know she sees my insecurity as I quickly pull my shirt down over my midsection.

The real tragedy in all of this, is that I’m not alone. There are so many young girls growing up that are learning to hate their bodies before they have even finished developing — or are even fully potty-trained — because they have a mother who has taught them how.  It may feel like the odds are stacked against us, that we are bound to pass on our bad habits to our daughters, but, the cycle must. stop. here.

We have got to stop the self-loathing. Your words carry more weight than you know. Every comment that we make to ourselves or about ourselves in the presence of our children has the potential to impact them for a lifetime.  You are a mother, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a crafter, a writer, a baker, a homemaker, an athlete, a caregiver, a professional — don’t let your jeans size tell you otherwise. Erase the word “fat” from your vocabulary, and treat yourself with kindness. You may not like the way your body looks, but beating yourself up about it is neither helpful nor healthy.

We have got to stop vilifying food. For so many of us, an unhealthy relationship with food is where our bad habits and lifelong struggle with weight and body image began to take shape — skipping meals, binge eating, the cabbage-soup diet, the grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet — we put ourselves through the wringer. Food sustains us, it nourishes us, it gives us life. We need to stop looking at food as someone that we love or hate, but instead for its purpose of providing nourishment. Stop classifying the way that you eat as a certain diet, and instead cultivate healthy eating habits that our daughters {and all of our children in general} can emulate.

We have got to stop letting the number on the scale dictate our lives — happiness is not just for skinny, perfect people. Don’t rob yourself or your children a trip to the beach or the pool because you wish you were 20 pounds lighter. Love running but can’t imagine people seeing you running at the weight you’re at? Get over it, sign up for that 5k, and lace up your shoes, friend! Don’t opt out of family pictures because you have a muffin top — find better fitting pants, and GET. IN. THE. PICTURE. Don’t let life pass you by while you’re waiting to be at your ideal weight. I’ve been there, I AM THERE, I’ve just had enough, and want more for myself and for my daughter.

amycaroline2We are all worthy of love, health, success, experiences, and happiness regardless of our weight, size, shape of our noses, color of our skin/eyes/hair, freckles on our cheeks, or dimples on our thighs. We need to start seeing that everyBODY is unique, and that our physical differences should have no bearing on our worth. We need to demand better for ourselves and work to ensure that our daughters grow up to be confident, healthy, and caring individuals, and not crippled by our insecurities.

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Amy was born and raised in Northern California before moving to the Houston area in 2003. Amy has a degree in Corporate and Organizational Communication from the University of Houston - where she met her husband Tate, a former football player for the Cougars and current CrossFit gym owner. Amy and Tate enjoyed their first year of marriage as Inner-Loopers before moving out to the suburbs to start a family. Caroline joined their family in September 2012, and life has never been the same since! Aside from her job as mom, Amy works full-time as an English teacher at the junior high level. She loves fresh air, online shopping, baking, and finding new things to do in and around Houston. Amy writes at New Mom Problems where she chronicles her life as a California girl living in Texas, motherhood, being a wife, and teaching middle school.

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