You have to grow a thick skin when you work in the television news business. As we are reporting the news, thousands of people at home are watching, and a select few are judging us. Just this week, a viewer commented on a story I covered about a program teaching families how to cook healthy meals. Instead of remarking on the video, the viewer looked at my headshot and wrote, “She looks like she eats healthy,” adding an emoticon to show that he was being sarcastic.
While he didn’t flat-out tell me, “You are fat,” he implied it, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that. People get creative when they want to criticize, using words like “lumpy” to describe my figure. Instead of the word ugly, I’ve been told that I have “below-average looks.” The criticism is something I’ve become accustomed to over the years. But a decade ago, comments like these would have brought me to tears and I would have spent days fretting over the fact that people didn’t like me.
I get it. Criticism comes with the territory. Do I enjoy it? Not unless it’s constructive. But, it’s part of the business that I signed up for. These days, I’m older, wiser and jaded, so I know how to brush off the comments. I know that I am not a blonde supermodel, and I know that I’m not considered “thin,” but I’m healthy, and that’s what matters. I will never be a size 2, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with my size 8 figure.
It had been a few years since I have received a mean comment about my appearance. As I read the negative feedback, my heart sank. Not because of the mean words, but because of what the future holds. I thought of my daughter, Peyton, an innocent toddler who thinks the world of me. I didn’t grow up with the internet at my fingertips, yet that is all my daughter will know. People can easily hide behind their computer screen and throw out hurtful words, all while staying anonymous. And to be honest, it scares me.
So how do I make sure Peyton grows up full of confidence and with a positive body image? I simply show her. By loving myself and every curve and dent, I’m showing her self-confidence. In the past five years, I’ve endured several surgeries, carried triplets, and recovered after nearly dying following the birth of my children. I’d say my body is pretty amazing! It may not be perfect, but I’m comfortable in my own skin and I want my daughter to see that. Every morning as we brush our teeth, I hold Peyton in front of the mirror. We look at our reflections and Peyton smiles as I tell her she’s beautiful. It’s never too early to start teaching our children to love themselves.
It’s taken me years to grow into the person I’ve become, and I’m proud of how I have evolved. As for that nasty comment? A simple phrase from my childhood comes to mind: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.