Some {BODY} to Love

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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DSC 0875 680x1024 Some {BODY} to LoveTo my lovely, beautiful daughters,

When you are a teenager, you may start to feel unsure of yourself, awkward in your own skin. You may have friends who are on diets. They may bemoan their own bodies. They are convinced that if they were 5, 10, 20 pounds or more thinner, they’d be prettier, better somehow. Boys you think are cute (who probably aren’t worth your affection, but you’ll think they’re your soul mate) might even say something negative about you or how you look. Your peers may fault you for not being pretty enough or thin enough. Or maybe you feel like that’s what they’re saying when they don’t invite you to a party or when they ask someone else to go to the movies with them. Or perhaps a mountain range of zits spreading across your face will make you want to crawl into your bed and hide away. Or will there be a boy –  a new one this time, the one who sits next to you in chemistry class and flirts with you but then asks someone more popular to the prom – who makes you want to dissect your body into a million, broken pieces or causes you to wish away your thick, sometimes unreliable hair? He’s not worth it. Trust me.

Later as a young adult, you might still be tempted to think your body’s not good enough. Everywhere you go, you notice the prettier girls – the ones who lost the freshman 15 instead of gained it, the ones who drank beer and ate greasy food without it ever showing up on their hips or tummies. You may try to wear the latest fashion trends; yet, you always feel like they’re never flattering on you (although, you swear, those bubble skirts look perfect on your best friend and made her butt look big in a good way). Don’t blame your body. Blame the style. Wear clothes that make you feel pretty, feminine, lovely whether they’re trendy or not. And remember this, beautiful girl, you’re not stuck with the features of your body – you’re blessed with them.

When and if you become a mother, don’t get angry with your body for changing. And it will change. Resist asking yourself things like: Why so soft? Why can’t I lose all this baby weight? Or how is it that now that I have finally lost all the baby weight yet my old jeans no longer fit right? Why did everything have to shift? What are those dimples on my thighs and what the heck? Did Harold and his magic, purple crayon have a heyday with my tummy and my bum? Will these purplish stretch marks ever go away? They may fade, but they’ll always be a part of you. Think of those marks as a reminder of this: Your heart will have to stretch to accommodate this new, little life who needs you – all of you – every moment, and your body will have to stretch a bit, too. Be forgiving. Let it change. Let the changes change you.

As you grow older, you’ll start to notice the wrinkles and how the curves you once tried to shrink now give way to gravity and grow flat. No more J-Lo behind. There’s no behind at all. Don’t let that saggy bottom get you down. Don’t let those wrinkles keep you from smiling. As the crow’s feet crinkle in the corners of your eyes, give thanks for a life well-lived and all the smiles and dramatic expressions that helped etch those lines on your beautiful face. The soft skin of infancy doesn’t last forever. It gives way to grooves and roughness just as your fresh innocence yields to wisdom. You are not a well-worn cliche, a footnote in a sea of youth. You have as much dignity as you did the day you were floating in my womb. Try to forget about your skin’s imperfections, but never forget this: You are a beautiful treasure with years of experience to share and offer the world.

You’ll be tempted with pricey skin products and medical procedures to “erase” the signs of aging. There’s nothing wrong with a good face cream, but what about giving that $100 to charity instead? What about embracing aging instead of erasing it or fearing it?

One day you’ll wake up and you’ll look like a raisin, covered in wrinkles. Your hair is thinning and silvery, your skin really, really loose and saggy now. Every time you glance in the mirror, you’ll be in for a shock. You don’t feel as old as you look. Don’t let the disparity make you sad. How wonderful that you feel so young! Live life like you feel, not by how you look.

Be kind to your body. By now, you may have made peace with the way your body looks, but give it a break when it starts to fail you in other ways. Age and sickness may mean your body won’t always work the way it should or the way it used to.  The size of your hips and your metabolism are the least of your concern as you grow older. You may start to worry that your heart might stop or that you might slip and crack a brittle bone. Be careful. But don’t fear too much. Your body won’t last forever, and that’s okay. Take care of it, honor it while you can, but don’t make it your life project.

Your body is not a weapon to wield against yourself or others. It is not your scapegoat either. Don’t blame it for your sadness, your unrealized dreams, or your insecurities. Your body is not an object. Don’t let anyone use it. And don’t you use it to get what you think you want. (Again, the boy isn’t worth it.)

My beloved daughters, instead of spending a lifetime trying to build a better body,  why not try to pour your heart and soul into building a better life?

Wherever your body takes you, whatever shape it molds into, know this: You are strong. You are beloved. You are somebody to love.

From One Beautiful Woman to Another,

Mama xxx ooo

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CNPnaturalparent Some {BODY} to LoveVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She’ll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she’s hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it’s pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate’s love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they’ll respect their own and others’.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children’s self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she’s trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama’s Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, “I’m not beautiful.” And while it’s hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child’s lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today’s society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can’t give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don’t You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma’s baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter’s clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she’s in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry’s choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is.

Enter the Conversation...

13 Responses to “Some {BODY} to Love”
  1. Destany says:

    That was beautiful and so true!
    Destany recently posted..They Sell Creams For That, You Know

  2. tree peters says:

    okay, this should come with a warning label: You will feel things that will change you and make you cry. All for the good…
    This is so beautiful and by writing it as a letter to your daughters I was moved beyond words.
    I’m thinking I need to share it and ask the women who read it to allow your words to wash over them and even wash away pain from past times in their lives. Because even if someone didn’t have a mother to speak and live these words to them, it is true for them too.
    Does that make sense?
    Thank you for sharing this.
    tree peters recently posted..Beautiful

  3. Tracy C. says:

    Beautiful. I agree with Tree-very healing for us grown ups too.

  4. Laura says:

    Oh my. This is absolutely gorgeous and really made me think very honestly about myself. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  5. Sue Elvis says:

    Kate,

    “You don’t feel as old as you look.” That’s where I am at the moment. I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I try to come to terms with it.

    “How wonderful that you feel so young!” Thank you for this!! Yes! That is so helpful. I remember the chapter in your book too.

    Thank you also for the link to my giveaway. It was hugely successful. Lots of readers got to hear about Susie’s book, A Little Way of Homeschooling.

    God bless!

  6. What a beautiful letter. I am in the midst of embracing aging (although I still think I look younger than my years). Hopefully I will still be able to do so gracefully, so that I can be a good role model for my children.
    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted..3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child

  7. “Your body won’t last forever, and that’s okay. Take care of it, honor it while you can, but don’t make it your life project.” Ah. Yes. I love this post, Kate. I love this peaceful and honoring view of aging and hope I can continue making my own peace with my body’s continued changes. It’s easy to feel betrayed when our bodies don’t behave as we want — instead of acknowledging all the ways they work just perfectly.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Raising boys with bodily integrity

  8. ecosuburban says:

    I love this letter to your daughters. So true, so full of love – for yourself and for your daughters.

    Yes, we need to embrace aging in this youth-obsessed culture. Being desirable and sexy is so linked to looking young. Hopefully the current generation of people entering their “golden years” will change this notion for those of us coming up next. I am in my 40s now and I am starting to notice the changes of aging – wrinkles here, grey hair there, and I hope that I am able to remember what you say.

    In our home we don’t use the words ugly, fat, hate, etc and I think this is hard for other people in our family to understand. My mother in law hates it when I take her photo and she says things like “I’ll break your camera with my ugliness,” “I have so many wrinkles,” or “why do you want my photo – I’m so old.” I finally had to be very honest and firm with her, in front of my daughters, and explain why I didn’t want her to say those things. She couldn’t understand why putting herself down, especially for her age, was harmful to her granddaughters. She said, “but they are so beautiful, how could it hurt them?” She still dislikes it when I take her photo with my girls, but she is at least no longer saying those things.

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Oh, that breaks my heart about your mother-in-law. I have already had to talk to my oldest about why some women don’t see themselves as we do or as God does because she has overheard too many women bemoan wrinkles or a few extra pounds. We are good enough just the way we are.

  9. Jade says:

    Wow, I’ve got to agree with everyone else. This should have come with a crying label. Beautiful writing. With your permission, I’d like to save this post to read to my little ones. I also will be forwarding it to a dear little girl I mentored. She is just now fourteen and has started dealing with similar issues. It was good that it took that long, but she was so hurt by some boy she thought cute telling her she has a moon face. She’s absolutely beautiful inside and out. Thank you again.
    Jade recently posted..Don’t You Love Me, Mommy: Instilling Self Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Thank you, Jade. Yes, please share this letter to anyone you think it might minister to.

      As for that 14-year-old, tell her this: She is lovely in every way. She never needs to fix herself. She only needs to be herself, and anyone who doesn’t see her worth or give her value is someone undeserving of her attention, love, and/or affection.

      I’ll also add this as someone who was teased as a child for being chubby and then later fell prey to an eating disorder, before I could heal I not only had to love and accept myself, but I also had to forgive those who hurt me and let go of my past. When we suffer – maybe directly because of someone else and how they treated us – we must forgive. We cannot bring beauty to the world with a hardened heart. Whatever our wounds, it is time to free ourselves through forgiveness. We don’t have to deny that we were ever hurt (or give those foolish boys our time of day), but we do have to stop being victims. A victim is someone who is powerless, but we have the power to silence the messages from our wounds, to edit those internal scripts that haunt us, and to become a healer for ourselves and for others.

      Blessings!

  10. Beautiful post! I love how you wrote this TO your little ones! Just perfect.

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