This is likely the most raw thing I will share for quite some time. It’s something I play with talking about, but never find the courage to follow through. And while I do often share “personal” things, those things still remain quite vague for the most part. Sharing something like this requires a level of clarity that goes beyond a vaguely referenced yet highly personal concept. So what is it? I want to talk about the one thing I never want my daughter to hear. And I can’t just talk about the thing itself, I have to talk about the reasons why.
But first, let me share a little back story with you. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist. I truly hate admitting that, but I also hate lying. I have a bit of a self critic that likes to thoroughly examine my every decision, my every move, my every everything.
To be real, we’ve become great friends over the years—my self critic and me.
I have foolishly come to really trust and value the opinion of my self critic, and here I am, twenty-something years later, recovering from an unhealthy relationship with myself.
My self critic hasn’t been safe, yet I have given it access to every area of my life, allowing near torment way more times than I would ever like to admit. Whether it was my school grade as an innocent second grader, my inability to fit into a click in high school, or my decisions as a college student to totally change paths, my inner critic has always been there to graciously remind me that I am not good enough.
And that self critic inside me gets its greatest joy and pleasure from examining every single detail of the body that houses it.
I lived most of my childhood and my teenage years being entirely overweight. It wasn’t for lack of discipline or self control, but rather for lack of knowledge. I truly didn’t know any different. I thought some girls were lucky and got to be skinny, and others weren’t. I was one of the unlucky ones. I dealt with a lot of shame and embarrassment, and I was made fun of more times than I can remember. Still, in the midst of all of that, the person that was the hardest on me… was me.
Why? Because I believed that all of society valued women based on their weight and their body type. And it wasn’t movies or T.V. or billboards and posters that taught me that. It was real people in my life.
And maybe you think that means people said things directly to me, but that wasn’t how it started. This belief that society values women based on appearance and body type came not from being told that, but from listening and observing those around me. It came from paying attention to the way in which the women in my life spoke about their own bodies and the bodies of others. And each time I overheard these statements of value, I experienced a deep sadness, realizing that my own body did not measure up.
I began to realize that if those around me were constantly making judgements and speaking harsh words about others, that it was most likely that other people would make the same judgments and statements about me. So I began to judge myself. I wanted to beat others to the punch. I felt like I somehow had the upper hand if I made the judgements about myself first—because then at least somehow I was aware and that made me feel less humiliated.
And that’s how it happened. The harsh words and judgements of others filled my heart and mind and led me down a path of self destruction. It has taken me years to realize the impact those words had, but I find myself much stronger and mores self aware because of it.
And most importantly, I find myself deeply longing to protect my daughter from those things. And I know it starts with me. So the one thing I never want my daughter to hear is me, her mother, talking about others in such a way that places their value in their appearance, weight, or body type. I never want her to hear me speaking about someone else in such a way that could leave her wondering, “do people think that about me.” I never want her to hear me speak in such a way that would communicate that another person is worthless based on their appearance, or that they are less valuable because they struggle with their weight.
And above all, I never want her to hear me talk about myself in this way. The ugly (and far from honoring) thoughts that I have about myself are thoughts that I never want her to experience. I want to raise her to love her body. I want her to embrace her looks and her body type, whatever they may be. And I want her to know that her value and her worth go far beyond her beauty (as stunning as she may be).
I want her to grow up knowing and believing that it is normal to recognize a wide variety of looks as beautiful. Women deserve to be empowered in their beauty and strength at a very young age. We need to stop allowing anything different for our girls.
My sweet daughter is perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, but that beauty goes far beyond her big brown eyes and perfect cheeks. She is beautiful because of who she is from the inside out, and I never want my daughter to hear anything that would give her reason to doubt that.
Great reminder! My husband and I were just talking about this the other day. Our little one is turning one this week and though she can’t quite pick up on everything we’re saying, her brain is a sponge and we want to get into good habits of encouragement and kindness. Wonderful post. Thank you.
AHHH!!! What day?! Miss Sadie turns one on the 5th!!!!
Birthday twins! December 5th!
NO WAY!!! I wish we lived nearby!
Kalyn Foggy says
👏👏👏👏👏 I too have a daughter and have struggled with my weight all of my life. I grew up constantly hearing comments from family members. “Do you really wanna eat that?” “It’s just baby fat – you’ll lose it when you get taller.” “I can’t pick you up anymore, chubby bunny.” I’m now 27 years old and undoing all the damage that has been done so that I don’t do it to my daughter.
Amen, sister. We might be twins separated at birth?
Joy DeKok says
I have a similar critic – she’s loud and bossy and wrong! Still. . .she has a way of getting my attention. But I’ve added the voices other people’s unkind words so I have a cacophony of critics I guess. But, your post is perfectly timed as I feel God tenderly asking me who I’m going to listen to! Thanks!
Oh man, I totally understand every bit of that! So glad this encouraged you!
Emily Hosea says
🙌👏🙌👏🙌 I think this is something so many of us struggle with and definitely something I want to protect my daughter from as well. Thanks for sharing.
Absolutely! It’s so important to raise them and empower them in their beauty! I don’t want my baby to fight the same battles I have fought!
Yes!! I love this post. You spoke exactly what I’m always thinking, and if I ever have a daughter (or son) I want them to know this too!
Absolutely! It’s so important! And, yes, I think it’s super important for boys too! I should have said that!
Crystal Santoria says
Love this post! We all have to be mindful of what we speak forth in front of kids. We want to set the positive example and not let our actions justify and solidify the standard of self hate. They see/do what we say/do to ourselves.
They totally do. Seriously, they pick up on every little thing!
Karen Lizarraras says
I love this post. Thank you for opening up. I am a mother of two little girls and this is definitely something I share on the daily!
Ah!!! I so hope we have another little girl as well!
Katie Deckert says
i love your thoughts here!! it takes a lot of effort to contain self criticism so that our daughters dont grow up with that mindset but I’m in the battle along with you.
Cheering you on in it!
Jen Enoch says
Wow, thank you for sharing in such an honest way. I can totally relate to when you said you overheard conversations, and those conversations made you wonder what people are saying of you behind your back. I’ve criticize myself growing up more times than I can remember. And in regards to my daughter, I’m very aware of how people talk around her, and refuse to allow anybody to even talk about other weight in front of her! This was so encouraging, thank you again for sharing.
I love that! I don’t want to be the “weirdo” but I also want to protect her!
Aryn Hinton says
I so relate to this and try hard to be self positive around my children too. Thanks for sharing your story ❤️
Absolutely.. those little ears hear it all!
Nadene van der Linden says
Very important message that starts in the home. Thanks for sharing
Erin Elizabeth Haugerud says
Super important! My mom did everything she could from protecting me from anyone saying anything to me about weight, etc. but the huge part she left out was protecting me from hearing her put herself down for her weight! It’s something I constantly have to think about!