2014-THANKSgiving

The Race Towards Body Acceptance

64 Comments

sink
Dear Shaila,

I am 37 years old as I write this. I know that might seem old to you when you read this and there was a time where I would have thought the same thing. 37 was where you went to die once your life stopped being fun. You encountered it as you approached the twilight years (your 40s) and Spanx became your best friend. 37 wasn’t a number I was particularly looking forward to, and it came upon me much quicker than I expected.

Do you know how many months are in 37 years, Shaila? 444 months. That’s a LOT of months. Do you know of those 444 months, how many I was actually satisfied or content with what I saw in the mirror?

Zero.

Yes.

None.

How does that happen? You know, I don’t really know what to tell you, honey. I know that there was a brief period in the summer before fourth grade that I thought I was remotely passable, especially when your Nana and Nani got me that wicked denim jacket from Sears.

Other than that, I never really liked what I saw.

When I was younger, I always wished I had shiny, straight hair. I also wished I looked like my other friends, which basically meant being white.

When I got to high school, I accepted my curls. For two minutes. I spent the rest of the four years wishing I was taller and thinner. Prettier. Less meaty.

Less, GOSH.

Less me, maybe?

In my twenties, my thighs were too big. My waist not small enough. My arms? Never quite right.

In my thirties, they were even more NOT right. Not only that. People were finding new things to “fix.” Some women even started talking about surgeries like vaginal rejuvenation to make their hoo-hoos prettier after childbirth. Your own Mommy looked down and said, “Oh great! another thing to add to the list!”

Yes, Shaila. People apparently have pretty ones and NOT so pretty ones. That is the society we live in, baby.

And for whatever reason, even knowing how messed up it all is, I have bought into all of it.

No, I didn’t blow your college fund on vaginal rejuvenation.

Not yet, anyway.

It’s just that, do you know that since I was 15 years old, there has not been ONE SINGLE DAY of my life where I have thought, “My weight is perfect. I look perfect”?

There has not been one day that I haven’t compared myself mentally in some way to another woman, in terms of my size, in terms of my appearance.

NOT. ONE. SINGLE. DAY.

Do you know what that makes me realize as I sit here today and I write this? At 37 years old. With a 5 1/2 year old daughter?

That I have wasted a whole lot of fucking time. So much fucking time wishing I was something other than what I was.

Excuse my language, dear.

But fuck, it makes me really, really sad.

I wish I could rewind things and go back and shake myself and say, “Love THIS. Enjoy THIS moment. It goes by too fast. You look fine. DAMN fine. But even if you didn’t? Who cares?!!!”

I wish I could, but you know what else? I need to shake myself now. Here. Now. Really hard. Because I still can’t seem to make that leap between unrealistic expectations that I will never, ever be able to fulfill and just accepting myself.

What the hell kind of message am I sending to you, my only daughter? I ask myself this as I have this realization. I tell you every day how perfect you are. How beautiful your heart and your mind and you soul are. So, why do I expect you to believe me when I never stopped, not one of those 13,510 days, to believe in myself just a little more?

Not ONE day, honey.

Not for 37 years.There are so many messages I send you every day. One of those messages has never been that Mommy feels comfortable in her own skin. The message has always been that Mommy needs to change some things. But don’t worry! She’s getting there!

But I never get there. Ever. It’s a race that just never ends.

I need to stop running it.

For your sake.

And for mine.

Love,

Mommy

 

Comments

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  1. 1

    grownandflown says

    I have a daughter, too. Important reminder to me about how much they see and hear and, as their moms, how much our influence weighs heavily throughout their lives. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

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  2. 2

    Debbie says

    Hi Kiran,

    You are right, we have to learn and teach our children to like being in there own skin. For myself I have always liked me. yes, my nose is a bit of a problem to me, but I have learned to work around it.

    By the way 37 is not to old and you are only as old as you feel. There is to much said in society when it comes to how or what we are suppose to look like. Put it this way if we all look alike and had that perfect body life could and would be boring.

    What is really important is what is inside, and when we like who we are inside we like what is on the outside.

    Our children learn from us and I am so glad that you are taking steps to teach your daughter to like who she is from the inside out.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    debbie

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  3. 4

    Jack says

    Just to be clear, your forties are not even close to the twilight years. Things might look and feel different physically, but mentally and emotionally you are probably going to be a thousand times happier than you were at peak “physical condition” called youth.

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    • 5

      Kiran says

      Hi Jack,
      No I don’t think they are – but I was writing about 37 from a child’s perspective – when I was young I remember it being soooo, sooo far away and well, so old. So just coming at it from a 6 year old’s perspective. I actually am looking forward to the other side of 37. I hope I’ve learned enough to make more out of the time I do have.

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  4. 6

    MomChalant says

    I have my own insecurities, so I can very much relate but girl, you are a hottie. Embrace your unique beauty and radiate positivity. You have every right to flaunt what you’ve got. You and your daughter are beautiful ladies.

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  5. 7

    Carrie says

    Thank you times infinity for that…I’m in my 30’s with a 6 year old daughter, and my body acceptance has hit a low after having my second child a year ago. I thought I was finally “fit” and at a great size just when I found out I was pregnant with him…could only halfway enjoy my pregnancy b/c I was obsessed with being the perfect pregnant woman who didn’t gain to much in the hopes I could jump right back into a size of clothes that validated I was “good enough”…I praise my daughter all the time and tell her how beautiful and smart, creative, caring she is, but I never thought about how I need to show her that I’m confident in my body, especially after two children…this is not only important for her, but for the both of us.

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  6. 9

    MarySunshine says

    And what message am I sending to my sons when I complain, in front of them, to my husband that I am fat, flobby and in my eyes unacceptable. I mumble about “Mommy is making changes” in front of them all day.

    Yes, I am making the changes for multiple reasons, but the ones I voice out loud are then superficial ones about my looks. Not the ones about feeling better…inside and out…mind, body and soul. I just natter on about muffin tops, back flab and double chins.

    I thank the stars for my husband. He sees beauty in me that I don’t and he tells and shows me regularly that he does. He’s the positive role model in this house. Ugh. I need to make some mental changes…especially if I ever have a daughter. She doesn’t need to be saddled with my guilt and insecurities before she can acquire her own.

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  7. 10

    SadJJ says

    This made me cry…Thank you so much for writing this. I needed to see this. Lately I have been so down on myself for how I look. Legs too fat, arms too fat, no boobs, horrible hair, acne-faced…and I am 30. I have a daughter, and it hit me: she hears me talk about how I hate how I look. I am doing the very same thing to her.

    Thank you. It might be a while before I can accept myself as beautiful, but at the very least, i can make DAMNED SURE that my daughter knows that SHE IS PERFECT in EVERY way.

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  8. 11

    Jill says

    Ha! Sometimes I have good body days, sometimes bad. Just the other day I said to my husband; “For being 32, just having a baby, I think I look pretty good!”

    I also wish that I could go back in time and yell at my 16 year old self and say “Look how hot you are! You are beautiful! Wear that skirt, dress, shorts! You look great in them!!!”

    Oh well…I guess now the best thing I can do it teach my son that healthy women are beautiful women, not matter what shape they are…

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  9. 12

    lizzyfan247 says

    Being fit, healthy and a good person, I feel, are way better goals to set for ourselves, and spend our time and energy on .. rather than worrying about what other people think!! True beauty comes from the soul :D

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  10. 13

    Katherine says

    I’m a BIG woman – I don’t even notice- I don’t want to. I think about measuring food constantly – thinking to fit into THAT role someone else has dictated how I best look. I gave up on that – at 40! I love being over 40. Something about that birthday gave me tonnes of confidence. I’m a ruben goddess – and I’ve shared that with both of my daughters. My 9 year old cries when I tell her my big rounded butt has sexy – “Mom- you are so anti-sexy!!!” she screams back – but at least I can role model it – even when I too feel the diabolic shift of somebody else’s ideas infringing on mine one of when one looks good.

    What scares me is I’m not the only influence – I do my best to turn the tides, but the marketing and the media have, in my mind, done enough to influence my little ladies – (8 & 9). “Mama, when I grow up will I be as big as you?”

    I try – I try to contrast that with – I go to the gym and can step for 45 minutes. I’ve given birth to two of the most amazing people on the planet – and I can still carry them on my back while on vacation and they tell me at the end of the sight-seeing day “Mom, I’m tired, please carry me” and I can carry 4 jugs of milk up the stairs, carry the dog to the vet, put their new bed together – etc etc etc.

    but the fact that they ask the question, and the fear behind it – for shame. I’m not winning this race, but I promise, to me more than to you, I promise to make a dent in it.

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    • 14

      Kiran says

      I think you are, sister. Making more than a dent, that is. And I’m so glad you embrace your beauty and the strength of your body. You are so NOT the anti-sexy. I’m proud that you remember to teach your daughters that.

      I like your promise. I’m right with you.

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  11. 16

    Andrea says

    I think it’s terrible how hard we are on ourselves. We all have a similar problem. I find myself feeling prettier, healthier, and overall better when I’ve lost that five pounds. But what is five pounds? My self-worth? Confidence? It is just five pounds.

    But.

    I also have to remember that when I get to a point where I say “I love my body,” that I am not following that up with “so please pass the chips and dip and chocolate cake.”

    Not every day, anyway. :)

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  12. 17

    Samantha says

    I wrote about this exact thing recently (http://thefordfamilyadventures.blogspot.ca/2013/02/teaching-them-to-love.html).
    It’s a very sad fact that we unknowingly teach our girls to hate their bodies. With two little girls of my own, it’s been my mission to make sure they know that mommy loves herself and her body… even if it feels so wrong to think that way. It’s a daily struggle, but I hope to pass on to them a feeling of self-worth, and self-love!

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  13. 18

    Cassie says

    I have learned a lot since having my boys, but how to be completely comfortable with who you are, size/shape and all is one thing I’m still working on too. It is so important that our kids learn that bodies can NOT be “perfect” and that this makes them perfect! Being healthy and active is what counts not your dress size or the scale.

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  14. 19

    Older mommy says

    I related to this post on many levels…..I’m 39, have been overweight my whole life (so haven’t fit in well with peers), I have 2 beautiful daughters that I’m thankful for every day and thankful they look more like my husband and some of my more attractive family members. I have never seen myself as attractive in any way and that attitude was enforced over the years by peers, other adults saying “you’d be pretty if lose weight”, men who ignored me or worse made rude comments or jokes about my appearance to my face….the list seems endless. I had a hard time believing my husband when he came along….why should I believe him only to become the butt of another joke? I hope I don’t pass my negative perceptions onto my sweet babies….they will have enough negative baggage of their own to deal with from society……

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  15. 21

    BFleming says

    I understand the message you are trying to send your daughter is a positive one but I don’t agree with your post. However, I like how you mention that you are working on your own body image. But to tell a child that women are now considering vaginal restoration? That you haven’t “yet” spent her college fund on it? I know your message is beautiful and we all need to read that but I think it would have been more effective if you reworded it differently? You seem to put yourself down a lot in your post. Be proud of yourself, since you are a “work in progress.”

    I’ve always struggled with my own body image and I’m slowly working on that.

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    • 22

      Kiran says

      Hi BFleming!

      Well – I certainly hope my daughter isn’t reading this – it’s more of a way for me to express myself so I took some artistic license in this being a letter to her. I am not really considering vaginal restoration – it’s very much a joke and my kids’ education and welfare pretty much trumps any of my own personal desires – especially if they were cosmetic in nature. My point is that we live in a society where women are being told how many ways they can improve themselves superficially and it’s exhausting. And while I know how shallow it is, sometimes I still am influenced by it.

      As for being a “work in progress” – yes, I am. Good luck with your own journeys!

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      • 23

        BFleming says

        Thank you, Kiran. Society is ugly. It is exhausting being told how to look. I fear for the day my daughter becomes an adolescent and is bombarded by all these messages.

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  16. 24

    mrsj says

    I’m 45 and in no way feel like I’m in my twilight years. I am hoping that bit was just a joke. I love being in my 40s – I feel so much happier and more secure than in my teens and twenties. However, like you, I do so wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to stop fretting about the way I look. Wear that bikini! I wore such baggy, oversized, shlumpy clothes and I see now just how cute and sexy I was – but I didn’t feel that way. For me at least, the older I get, the happier and more confident I get. You couldn’t pay me to be 16 again.

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    • 25

      Kiran says

      MrsJ – yes – the age thing was a joke. I feel fairly young at 37, but when I was younger, the way I looked at 37 was very different than how I perceive the age now.

      Yet I do think 37 years is a long time when I think about how many times I have looked in the mirror during that time and how many opportunities I could have had to think positively versus negatively. And for that time, I do have regrets.

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  17. 26

    marissa says

    I’m 33 and have 2 little boys, and I can really relate to this story with my mom. A lot of the ladies commenting here are saying that they are going to tell their daughters how perfect they are, even if they don’t feel perfect about themselves. My mom has always told me I was perfect and beautiful, yet she constantly put herself down, and called herself fat, talked about how ugly she looked, and went on crash diets and didn’t like herself. I watched this and it was so hard for me to believe that I was just perfect. While I’m not a crazy dieter, I still lack the confidence that I know I should have. Moms, please don’t put yourselves down in front of your children. I believe confidence is learned by the examples we are given.

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    • 27

      Wendy says

      When I was 8 or 9, I heard my mother one day, as she combed her hair in front of the mirror say, to no one in particular, “Oh, why do I have to be so ugly?” It absolutely broke my heart, and I didn’t know what to say. She was big, and beautiful, but so sad, and rarely smiled. Yeah, I ‘inherited’ that from her. I am recovering, however, and my 24 y.o. daughter knows that she is perfectly gorgeous, and that, although I’ve had a hard time with my self image in the past, I’m getting healthier, in all ways, every day, and feeling good about myself. BTW, I’m 52, and feeling excited about all the living I’ve yet to do!

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