Mommy, am I beautiful?
She asked me after looking in the mirror with her 2 year old hands on her hips.
That always snaps me right back into reality when I start to become critical of myself. Because whatever I model for her as I speak about and treat my body, this will likely be her view of herself, too.
This concept gets especially hard when you might be suffering from the holiday ‘yuckies.’ You know what I mean, that feeling where you walk around and feel angry and frustrated at yourself for too many cookies? Or bread? Or cheese? Or your jeans don’t fit?
Been there, and feel some of that today.
Interestingly, at 31 years of age, I feel more comfortable and okay in my body than I ever did when I was a young athlete. Are there things I miss about that body, you bet. But at that time, I didn’t yet know that I was enough. Here is what I will tell you; exercise and being active have been a hugely important piece of my self-care and story, but they could never cause me to see myself as being enough on their own.
Loving yourself is easy when you are doing everything right. It’s easy to look in the mirror and feel pride when you go down a size, or your stomach looks awesome. But it’s a lot harder when we don’t believe we fit the mold of beauty that we’re supposed to.
Am I advocating for eating crap and never exercising? Nope.
I am advocating for viewing ourselves with deep love and compassion, even when we don’t fit the mold---especially then. And out of this place we choose to treat our body well, not punish it for being “bad.”
Because this is what I hate: seeing women (young and old) continually berate themselves for their lack, their failure. I grieve for the shame we (individually and collectively) heap on ourselves for this lack. Shame (the belief that I am bad) does not produce change.
Shame produces eating disorders.
Shame produces exercise purging.
Shame produces more shame.
What does produce change? Well, that’s always a complex question, but a core piece is healthy guilt and repentance. This is the belief that while your actions may need to change, YOU are loved.
Here’s what I’m learning...when I live out of the identity of being loved, rather than constantly trying to earn love, I enjoy and am grateful for what God has given me. And that feels really good.
Is this easy? Not really, and I still have a lot to learn. But here’s the thing, I realize that when I honor how God made me, I am teaching my daughter to do the same. I am teaching her to love how she is made, even with all her imperfections.