She is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Listen y’all…I snapped at my daughter last night, not because I was angry at her or anything she had done, but because what she said made me very angry at the world. Let me explain…
We’ve always encouraged our children to make healthy choices and we regularly exercise as a family. This is not an overly-obsessed, zero sugar, no processed foods, no Happy Meals, all organic all the time kind of home…far from it (kudos to those who are that…you do you). We believe in moderation, but working out is just something we enjoy doing together and helping the kids understand healthier food choices now will (we hope) set them up for an easier future. What I have been very conscious of as a mother is never obsessing over my weight or size or using the word “diet” in front of my children and especially in front of my young daughter. Sadly, that doesn’t mean I don’t obsess about those things in my own mind, but simply that I have done my best to keep that burden from her.
I am angry that we live in a world that, despite my best efforts to protect you, has somehow convinced my beautiful 8-year-old daughter that the skinnier you are the better you are.
So, when my daughter came into the living room last night and proudly proclaimed, lifting the front part of her shirt to show me her progress, “Mom! Look how skinny I am after my exercise!” I lost it. She is 8 years old. My reply should have been more calculated and calm, but what came out was a blur, “Stop worrying about how skinny you are! You are 8 years old and you are strong and smart and healthy and beautiful! Life should never be about how skinny you are!” She looked at me stunned as tears filled her eyes. She slowly walked back upstairs and quietly closed herself into her room.
I stood there stunned and unsure of what to do or say next, knowing that this was a big life moment. Once my own tears dried, I lightly knocked on her door and sat down at the foot of her bed to explain. “My love, I am not mad at you or angry at you. I’m so proud of you. I am angry that we live in a world that, despite my best efforts to protect you, has somehow convinced my beautiful 8-year-old daughter that the skinnier you are the better you are.”
I did my best to explain to her that I’m so mad that somehow our society has convinced us that as girls and women we all have to look the same and that perfect look should start with being skinny. I’m mad that despite my efforts to shield her, these ideas have crept into our home like a thief stealing her childhood innocence. I’m so mad that the world feeds us fake images of perfection and makes us believe that anything less is unworthy. I’m tired of a world that has taken our happiness captive and held it hostage until a certain size is achieved.
I told my little girl that the world is hard enough on women and sometimes the world is unkind, so we have to learn to be kind to ourselves. We want to be strong so that we can help others. We want to be healthy so that we can run and play with friends. We want to eat good food so that we can have focus and energy to learn in school. I want her to be fierce and loyal and caring. I want her to be confident in who she is and fearless. But, skinny is never the goal. I told her over and over that she is beautiful just the way God made her and if she takes care of herself the way God instructs us all to, then she will look exactly the way God intended. Above all, she is so very loved and perfect in my eyes and in God’s eyes.
As a mom, I wish I told myself those things more often. I wish I looked at myself and saw what God sees and not the insecurities that this world has given me. I want to be a better example, but I want my words to be true for myself as well and not just something I tell my daughter. I want to be fierce and loyal and caring. I want to be confident and fearless. Ladies, love yourselves. Everyone, love your girls and any young girls around you. Love exactly who the Lord made you to be and embrace whatever it is that makes you special. Take care of what you have so that you can live your best life no matter what size jeans you live that life in.