How do we teach our little girls to love their bodies?
Good question, I have no idea.
For those of you who do not know, I am a very proud mommy of 3 (and a half) year old Mikayla Rose. She is funny, smart, witty and very confident… so I was completely taken aback by what happened the other day.
I often look at Mikayla while she is sleeping or watching a her favourite show on TV, I’ll look at her pink cheeks and her little nose, her pouty lips and long legs, her small little fingers, her long eyelashes and think – I made those with my body. Every piece of her; I’m like a sorceress or some sort of magical fairy goddess. I remember thinking that I would be crushed if she ever hated one bit of herself.
One of the hardest parts of being a working mom is having to leave in the morning before Mikayla wakes up to get ready for school. To make things a little bit easier for my husband, I would lay out her outfit for the day the night before… It’s safer for all of us that way. When I got home on this particular day, however, Mikayla was not wearing the outfit I picked for her.. Let’s just say it was very clear that Daddy dressed her.
When (sensitively) I asked Cole about it , I was told that Mikayla refused to wear the adorable denim shorts I got her, because she did not want the kids at school to see her “furry legs”. Wait…what???
I found it hilarious at first, then I realised… my daughter is ashamed of her legs, how did this happen? Has she somehow picked up on my own insecurities about my body? She is way too young for this…right?
I tried sitting her down and telling her that it is normal to have “fur” on your legs when you are a little girl, that all the other kids have it too. “No, my friends will all laugh at me!” I try telling her that her legs are beautiful, and everyone would love to see them. I try telling her that the sun would be sad because he wants to see her legs and kiss them with his warm rays… nothing works. She absolutely and completely refuses to wear her shorts. The funny thing is she is fine wearing a swimsuit to the beach, or wearing her favourite fairy dress in the house… could this mean the problem lies at school?
I thought that this would be a conversation we would be having when she was entering her teenage years… not now, she’s not even in Grade R yet!
So, what do I do to help her love her body besides banish televisions, take her out of school and then wait until she’s asleep to sit in the bathtub crying and breathing slowly into a paper bag while crushing Valium into my wine? For now, this is my plan of action I’ll let you know how it works out for me:
- I will make sure to tell her every single day that she is beautiful – right after I tell her how smart, brave, funny and creative she is
- I will never let her hear me talk negatively about my own body, or let her see me look in the mirror with anything but a smile on my face
- I will never let her hear me talk negatively about other women’s bodies
- I will walk around naked – I know that eventually this will become super creepy, but for now my plan is to help build a normality of what she sees.
- We will dance and dance and dance, no matter how silly we look
- I will let her love food
- I will teach her to talk about her feelings
- I will teach her to be proud of herself
- I will teach her that it is more important to be strong, healthy and confident than to be skinny
If any mommies out there have had any similar experiences, please do share. I need some help on this one!
Fast forward 4-years since this post and my little girl is as confident with her body as can be. We put a lot of emphasis on loving our bodies just as they are, treating our bodies with respect and not remarking on all the negative things. It worked perfectly!