Thank you for teaching me to love my body. I came across this letter recently and it broke my heart.
I would like to lose a few pounds right now, but I’m not starving, punishing, hating, or demeaning myself like so many women I know. I think I know why. I think it’s because of you.
Every day, women are bombarded with messages that we are not good enough, or should I say, that we are too much. All we do have to do is turn on the television, read an article online, or enter any public space where there is advertising. The messages are the same: you need to be skinny, young, and perfect to be loved. Your worth is your body.
Even with a mother like you, it is sometimes difficult not to internalize these messages. Sadly, to some degree, I think we all have.
Still, I know I will not give in to them. Still, I choose to view and treat my body with love. I know the struggle would be infinitely harder if you hadn’t shown me what that looks like.
I’ve never heard you criticize yourself or your daughters about our looks or our weight. In fact, you’ve done the opposite. We would all laugh when you would compliment yourself on how good you look, but it has given me the confidence to do the same, if only to myself in the mirror.
When I would complain about my stomach not being flat enough, you would question my thinking. “Who says it’s healthy for every woman’s stomach to be completely flat? I think yours looks just as it should.”
The only concern you’ve ever shown is for my health and well-being, not whether I’m skinny at any cost. If I was trying to lose weight, your concern was whether I was getting enough to eat or overexercising. “I think you’re at a great weight now. I don’t think you need to lose any more,” you would tell me.
When you felt like you’d put on a few pounds, I never saw you take extreme or harmful measures to lose them. You would simply exercise more and make healthier choices. There was no panic or self-hatred involved. You talked about how uncomfortable you were and how you wanted to be healthy and feel better. It never sounded like your weight was a reflection of YOU. That taught me that my body and my weight were not all that mattered about me either.
I’ve watched you accomplish so much and spend time and energy on so much more than your appearance: your family, your health, your studies, your career. You’ve always been beautiful through it all.
You’ve always told me I was beautiful and complimented my looks and my body, but you didn’t stop there. You also told me that I was smart, special, and talented. You have never made me feel like my looks were the sum of me. If anyone else tried to go there, you defended me. My feelings and well-being were the priority.
Thanks to you when I work on my health and fitness, it’s because I love myself and my body, not because I hate it and want to change it. I want to be the best that I can be.
Thanks to you when someone tells me that I look great, I can accept the compliment and say thank you. You’ve made it so easy for me to believe them.
Top Photo: Flickr/Philipp