Monday, March 19, 2012

Who's that Girl?

Growing up, my mom told me all the time how my feet were huge.

Ok, she really was just complaining about how quickly my feet were growing and lamenting my seemingly constant need for new shoes. But that's not how I heard it!

She also frequently told me I should get on the elliptical for 10 minutes to lose a few pounds.

Yes, she really did say it just like that and now regrets it.

I've been thinking a lot lately about self-image. How the things people say to us, we say to ourselves, marketing images, etc, mold that picture of ourselves in our mind. I worry about what's going on in my own daughter's head and how she views herself. See, for the longest time I thought I had big feet due to the growing feet/shoe conversations with my mom. When I was old enough to purchase my own, I'd get size 9 1/2 or even 10.

I'm an 8 1/2. Sometimes a 9.

And yet it took me years to figure out! You'd think it would be easy- Hello, my shoes did not fit- I stuffed kleenex in the toes of some of them and walked out the back of most. But for what I can only assume was due to the self-image of my feet, I couldn't see the blatantly obvious.

The weight issue is more complex. In addition to my mom telling me I needed to get on the elliptical, my friends all talked about wanting to lose weight. Picking apart your body was almost the in thing to do. Everyone complained about their weight! Then there was the constant bombardment of marketing images in magazines. The odd guy in high school that referenced my 'birthing hips' didn't exactly help, either. What was I supposed to think?

Well, eventually(much later) the realization hit if I'm wearing thick leggings under my jeans because I'm ridiculously cold and the creepy science teacher can't tell because I still look thin, then dang it, Gina! I was thin!

And I had normal sized feet! Albeit short toes, affectionately referred to as my Flintstone feet. That I still manage to make good use out of in picking things up off the floor without using my hands. (haha)

Of course so much of how I felt about myself really was due to what I was saying repeatedly in my head: 'I wish my feet were smaller. I wish I could fit into cute, short little pants. I wish my skin was clear. I wish my teeth were whiter. I wish my thighs weren't so jiggly. I wish my hips were more narrow. I wish my boobs were bigger.'

I could go on and on and on.

Then I grew up.

And got pregnant.

And had a baby.

And breastfed my (second)baby.

And you know what? My feet are perfect, people would kill for my long legs, my skin isn't that bad, my teeth are white without looking fake, my thighs are normal, my hips grow and birth perfect babies and my breasts are the little engines that could!

My body is AMAZING.

Why did it take so long to figure out?!

And more importantly, how do I impart that same knowledge to my kids? Is it possible to help them navigate the minefield that is 'growing up' so they can afford a healthy self-image much earlier? What things do you do to cultivate that in your own child(ren)?


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