"As moms, we set the tone in teaching our girls about appearance and what it means." ~from the book "You'd Be So Pretty If..."
Most of us would never tell our daughters that they look fat or that their nose is too big or that we wished they looked like someone else...but how many times have we said these things about OURSELVES in front of our daughters. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I know I have...many times. It's a terrible habit that I've had practically my whole life. I was never happy with my weight or my appearance and if I am honest...there are many times that I still struggle.
I grew up in a house with a Mom that was overweight most of my life. It seemed like she made fun of herself or put herself down constantly. She was always telling us girls that we didn't want to grow up and be fat like her, and she was extremely sensitive about her appearance. It has always made me sad that my Mom says she is fat and ugly and dumb. I always wanted my Mom to fix herself up and feel pretty. I wanted her to lose weight and be healthy. I wanted her to feel smart, but mostly I wanted to feel proud to say "This is my Mom." and have her be confident in herself.
I don't constantly say I'm dumb and I have worked very hard to NOT be a sensitive as my Mom was and still is. I am the first one to laugh at my short comings and I can take a joke pretty well, but when it comes to my appearance...I am very critical of myself. I nitpick and worry about every last detail and being a very vocal person without much of a filter...many times I will say things in front of my kids that I should not say. "I feel fat." "I hate my nose and wish I could get a nose job." "I look gross today." "Why are people staring at me? Do I look bad?" etc etc etc.
Writing is interesting for me because when I blurt these things out...I don't think another thing about it. But seeing these things written out, makes me feel embarrassed and regretful. I remember once standing in front of my mirror. I was all fixed up for the day complete with hair, makeup, accessories, and high heels. I stopped to make one final look so I could make sure everything was just as I wanted it to be...perfect. I got a disgusted look on my face and said, "Ugh. Somedays I just feel so fat and ugly." under my breath. I turned and my daughter, Savanna, was standing there. She was in that awkward stage...13 and braces...not a child, but far from being a woman. She looked at me and then I saw her look at herself in the mirror. She sucked in her tummy and smoothed her shirt...fixed her hair and made a confused face. She looked at me and looked at herself. My kids love me and look up to me. They are always telling me how pretty I am and want to do things like me. I could tell what she was thinking..."If you are 'fat and ugly'...what am I?"
As soon as I saw her face, I felt really bad. Before I could say anything, she said, "Mommy, please don't say that! You are so pretty and skinny!" I regretted saying those things in front of her that day and I apologized and told her she was right, but what just struck me as I wrote this, is that I say "I regretted saying those things IN FRONT OF HER." when in reality, I should regret saying them to MYSELF as well!
Being a mother is the most important job a woman will ever do. With that job, comes great responsibility...responsibility that does not end when our kids are grown. I've often said, that the moment I had children...my life ceased to be my own. The choices we make and the things we say have a direct result on the way our children not only see us as mothers, but themselves as well. We have to work every day to BE the positive influence that we want for our children. They watch everything we do, whether we want to believe that or not. The next time you want to say something mean about or to yourself...ask yourself this question..."Would I want my daughter to say this about herself?" I bet if we all did that, the way we treat ourselves and the example we set would vastly improve!