I wish I could erase this pattern that cripples women, the one that starts as a preteen and follows us through life. This unhealthy space of not liking the way we look. I blink slowly trying to remember when this started, or why it started. Was it the images on television or the porn I found in someone’s house when I was a girl trying to figure out what being a woman was all about?
I remember thinking that day when I realized that people pay money for this crap- So this is what you think of women?
Don’t you know that I will be one soon?
This is someone’s daughter and you are someone’s dad.
Is this all you think that we are? Painted and displayed and broken.
I felt sorry for her, the girl on the front cover bare.
I am bringing up girls now and I feel the weight of this enormous task that is laid out before me.
God, please help me to do this right.
My daughter asked if it was a good time to talk. When your preteen wants to talk to you, it’s always a good time to talk. This “shut the door, tell me everything you are feeling” stuff is starting to happen. God knows how much I want to be good at it.
I want to have the answers and play it cool when something throws me off guard; I want to have the words to ease her troubled mind.
And it starts.
I feel bad about my body.
I feel bad about my mind, like I’m not smart enough.
I decided to start with the “I wish I could change my body” talk first.
I tell her about the change that is happening, that right now her mind and her body are trying to catch up. I talked to her about comparison and how she just needs to be the healthy version of herself, that there is no weight limit or jean size that can be her guide for this. The hormones are invading her space and she is growing, developing, and morphing into a young woman right before my eyes.
This stretching out place happens both in our bodies and our mind, but somehow we need to carefully walk our daughters through this. They need to know that their bodies are a gift; that they are a gift.
So, I pulled out this scripture verse knowing that it takes a lifetime to really get this, but I quoted it anyway.
“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7 ESV)
Of course, men and women look at the outward appearance while God looks at our heart. But, all I saw sitting in front of me was a girl who looked just like me; and I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.
Something comes to me, a thought, a way that I could help her. I grab my soft middle, the part that I wish wasn’t there and say, “Is this what you notice when you look at me?”
She shakes her head and says ‘no’ softly.
“I didn’t always have this soft part of me. At times I wish it wasn’t there, but it gave me you.”
Bringing forth life changed my body, but more importantly, it changed my heart. So, I thank God for the stretchy middle and the miracle of giving birth. I thank Him for helping me when I was underweight, stressed to the max, ill, and unable to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
I knew that in moment I needed to give my daughter the gift of seeing her mother love her imperfections and show her what it looks like to honor and respect my body.
I am not measured by my soft middle, or the size of clothes that I wear. I am not my title, or the position I hold. My worth is based on the contents of my heart, that’s all.
If I can teach this to her at eleven and reinforce it over the years. If I can guard carefully the words that come out my mouth about my body image, I can make a lasting impact. If I can do this and change the way she views womanhood, I could change a generation-the one that she will be leading.
But, I can’t do this without you doing the same thing for your girls.
Maybe if we link arms and allow our strength be larger than Kim Kardashian’s butt displayed all over the internet, we can be the women who not only teach about the power of a woman’s worth- we can be the women who live it loud enough to quiet our daughter’s insecurities.
So, as I sit here wrecked with a list of things I need to buy for my girls for Christmas, I know this is the most important gift I can give them, the gift of championing the worth of women. All the women, those on display and the ones starving and cutting themselves to dull the pain.
But I must start first with the miniature versions living in my house.
Are you with me?
Love you like crazy,