I'm not sure when the first time I compared my looks to someone else was. It was most likely around 8 or 9, from some of the memories I am cycling through. I wished I was taller, had longer hair, had straight hair instead of the crazy waves that fell from my head, had a cute button nose, had blue eyes instead of my murky green. The list continued to change throughout my adolescence. Sure, I felt mostly pretty, but the comparisons didn't stop. To some degree, they still haven't. They are farther and fewer between as I start to strengthen my worth, and who it comes from.
I never saw myself having a daughter. When I envisioned being a mom, it was always to boys. Even without knowing what my oldest son's gender was before his birth, I had not picked out a girls name. I was so sure I would be having a boy! I knew the relationships with most of my friends and their moms were rocky at best. I knew how I had struggled. When I found out that I was pregnant with a girl, my dreams for her immediately ran wild in my head. She would know her worth. She would know how beautiful she was. She would know how loved she was, and I would support her
dreams no matter what. 9 months later, out pops the most beautiful little girl in the world, smiling at me at 2 minutes old. I was instantly in love. She is my mini in almost every way, other than having her Daddy's blue eyes and straight hair. Our similarities go way beyond our identical features right down to our feet. She has my sensitivity (bless her), mannerisms, love of music and singing, sparkle in her eye when she smiles, and positive nature. The list goes on and on. She is a mama's girl, much to her Daddy's dismay. (Though, I keep telling him he will have her soon enough.) We have always told her how beautiful she was, since that was important to me that she know, but have been careful to not make that the only focus. We tell her how smart she is, strong she is, brave she is, creative, fun to be around, and how she can do anything she sets her mind on. She is not one who has seemed to lack for confidence in herself. But, lately as she watches me do my hair and make up or is snuggling up close to me, she's been making comments about wanting to have green eyes like me. Wanting her hair to be like mine. This immediately makes me think to myself how I wished I had blue eyes like hers, and her long flowing hair, continuing the cycle. I don't tell her this, but instead flip back through all of the things I've said to her and wonder if I've done enough to help her feel beautiful and know her worth comes from God. She has a shirt with Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made" on it. Whenever she wants to put on make-up with me, I make sure I tell her it isn't because we need to look better, but because it is fun. That we look beautiful without it too. So, after last Sunday when she came home with this drawing, it broke my heart.
I asked her to tell me about her drawing and she pointed out the red flower clip she loves to wear, the red hair chalk through her blonde hair, her ears which she giggled because she had "put them upside down", and her beautifully long eyelashes. Then she looked up at me and said "and I gave myself green eyes like you because that would be prettier" . Oh, baby girl. My heart hurt. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I told her something about how she is perfect just the way she is. We read the verse about being fearfully, and wonderfully made. Part of me wondered if this was just because she is such an extreme mama's girl that she just wants to be like me, and doesn't really
doubt her own beauty. We looked through photos of my kids and the beautiful differences between their eyes. Carson has the most beautifully rich brown eyes I have ever seen, while Jordan has hazel with an amazing pattern to them, and Emmie's eyes remind me of the sea. I
told Emmie how beautiful her eyes were, and was careful to not say I wished I had them too. We looked at photos of flowers, and I asked her to pick which one was the prettiest. "They're all so pretty!" Exactly. We can admire someone else's beauty without questioning our own. Differences make us unique, and beautiful. How boring would the world be if we all looked
the same. When we paint, we use many different colors all together. And so did God.
How to talk to your daughter about her body -
Don't talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don't say anything if she's lost weight. Don't say anything if she's gained weight.
If you think your daughter's body looks amazing, don't say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
"You look so healthy!" is a great one.
Or how about, "You're looking so strong."
"I can see how happy you are -- you're glowing."
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don't comment on other women's bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one. Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don't you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don't go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don't say, "I'm not eating carbs right now." Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself. Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that's a good thing sometimes. Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you'll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn't absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don't need men to move their furniture. Teach your daughter how to cook kale. Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom's recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside. Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide rib-cages. It's easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don't. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her rib-cage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants. Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul. ~ Sarah Koppelkam
Listen to this song (below) that has spoke truth into this subject for me! I cannot speak highly enough about Ellie Holcomb!