In honor of Mother’s Day my mom posted a picture of her & my grandmother as her profile picture on Facebook. I thought “that’s cute!” & then I immediately saw that my grandmother had commented ‘why did you post this ugly picture of me for everyone to see?’
and it hit me
For my entire life I have listened to the women in my family put themselves & others down, speak negatively about their looks, image & shape. They have always told me how pretty I am & to be confident in myself but I have never heard them speak about themselves in this way.
Make no mistake about it – your children/grandchildren hear everything you say.
Until I became a mother & had confidence that my body is FUNCTIONAL I never had a positive body image. Ever. I was too skinny, too plain, too pale, my boobs were too small, my skin was too oily/dry, my hair was too stringy, my teeth are too yellow, my eyebrows are too bushy, my arms too hairy. Never enough.
These things were never said TO me but I decided they must all be true because I grew up in a family that blurted out judgments on everyone’s body & looks all. the. time.
People on tv, people on the street, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, ex’s, teenagers, kids – nobody was safe.
“she sure got big didn’t she?!” “her hair looks awful” “doesn’t look like he’s missed many meals” “what is she wearing?!” “I look so ugly” “I can’t wear that” “don’t take a picture of me” “I hate my smile” “I’m fat”
You name it – I’ve heard it being said about someone and yet somehow I was supposed to believe that I was beautiful?? I couldn’t even understand what the standard of beauty WAS so how could I have ever expected that I could live up to it?? I spent the first 3 decades of my life doubting that I could be something beautiful but always chasing it like a shadow.
I have to change this pattern.
When I was pregnant I was actually terrified of having a little girl because I was so worried that I will somehow make her feel that she can’t ever live up to some made up standard of beauty in the same way that I had felt for so long. Then I realized – I have that responsibility no matter if I have a boy OR a girl! I want my son to know that he IS a beautiful person & that he should be proud of his body AND his mind! Not only that, but he should celebrate the bodies & minds of those around him & remind them that they are to be celebrated. He should not look at a woman & wonder how much she weighs or how many people she has slept with but rather what kind of impact is she having on the world around her or what she’s passionate about.
That begins with me. What do I say about those around me? What is he hearing me say about others? Old habits die hard BUT this is a responsibility I take VERY seriously & I know that patterns to not change on their own.
I am heartbroken that my mother & grandmother might never know the kind of inner confidence that would drive them to lift others up rather than try to bring others down. I hope that maybe if they see a change in me that it might inspire them to feel better about themselves.
I can’t change the world – but I can have an impact – I just have to choose if it will be one of positive change or to continue on the path that’s been set out before me.