In a world where physical beauty tends to trump the beauty of strong character, unwavering values and servanthood, our daughter’s futures will be molded by what we teach and model for them.
As a graduate of the social work program, I have a tendency to have a Facebook newsfeed filled with ‘woman-empowerment’ related articles. Over the past couple of months, I began to notice more and more articles written by moms trying to teach their girls to ‘love their bodies’. The wording varied, but it seemed to be a movement around showing pride over the natural body, appreciating different sizes and shapes, and building confidence.
I got sucked in.
I began to watch my 5 year old closely and soon began to worry if I was doing enough to strengthen her self-image. I caught myself imagining conversations down the road about eating disorders, appropriate clothing, and treating your body with respect. It wasn’t long after that I became convinced there should have been a better screening process for who was allowed to birth and raise little girls.
A month later I found myself staring out the window at my parent’s house as I continued to worry about teaching my daughter to ‘love her body’. Maybe I should compliment her more about being kind to distract her. Maybe I should do more to teach her that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Maybe I should….let my parent’s raise her until she’s older.
And that’s when it hit me.
My mom never taught me to love my body. My mom never taught me to appreciate different shapes and sizes of or that there was beauty in getting old.
She was too busy.
She was too busy teaching me how to cook as I’d spend hours sitting on the kitchen counter with my heels banging against the cupboards.
She was too busy praying with us about being thankful and blessed.
She was too busy thinking about the families from the school that she worked with as a parent advocate.
She was too busy teaching me how to think of others.
Maybe she forgot. Or maybe she was so busy being thankful and serving others that she didn’t think of it.
I never remember watching my mom spend time getting ready in front of a mirror (in fact, I don’t remember us owning a full-length mirror until we were older) or agonizing over an outfit. We never went for manicures as a ‘pick-me-up’ or a way to feel pretty.
As I was watching out the window I began to realize that I was too busy worrying that I was missing it. I was missing the lake and watching the wind bend the trees. I was missing my healthy daughter swinging from the neighbor’s high rope (wait…is that too high?) squealing with delight. I was missing being thankful.
Not long after, we were driving on our camping trip out west and I turned to see my daughter riding with her head out the window feeling the wind in her face. She turned to look at me and said ‘I’m thankful that God made so many amazing views for us to look at, mom. He must have really known what we’d like.”
I hope she keeps being too busy. Too busy looking out windows and being thankful. Too busy serving others. Too busy enjoying time with family and friends.
Do I hope she loves her body? I guess. Even more though, I hope that she is so busy living life that she doesn’t really notice.
Which brings it all back to me. Perhaps instead of teaching my daughter to ‘love her body’ I’ll just keep teaching her to look out, to be thankful, and to serve others.
Mothers of daughters, we’d love to hear from you? What are you teaching your daughters?