To the Woman Who Hates Her Body:
Stop criticizing yourself for the body image that you see in the mirror. You are beautiful and it’s time to learn to love your body.
Hearing your story and sharing your inner world is truly heartbreaking. As I sit and listen to the painful things you have experienced and the hurtful way you talk about yourself, I just wish I could wake you up.
If you could just see yourself in all of your glory, you’d know that your body image has been distorted.
Learning that It’s Not Okay to Love Your Body Started Young
You were conditioned from a young age to have a certain opinion on what is acceptable for a woman and how you need to look. You played with the disproportionate barbie doll, and thumbed through the digitally altered, highly made over magazine covers.
It taught you that you are not good enough the way you are.
But it didn’t start there. Other people have have reinforced that message that you shouldn’t love your body. That it’s too big for a bathing suit unless you do that crash diet. Some have said it directly; others taught you this in action.
It started at home. It continued at school. No one even seemed to realize it.
You might have heard the obvious put downs from family. The “girl, you’ve gained some weight, haven’t you?” or heard someone laughing at your cousin because her legs “jiggled” when she walked.
You learned it in the reminder that you needed to work for that “summer body”. I hate that you heard any of that.
And I hate that the problem goes even deeper.
You saw it when your mom stood in front of the mirror and groaned at the image staring back at her.. Or the terrible things she said about her own body while she was getting ready to take you to the pool. She didn’t love her body, either.
You heard it from your friends who were laughing about the larger woman wearing shorts that were “too short for someone so fat.”
You thought those experiences were no big deal but you were like a sponge who soaked up the lesson that to be acceptable, you can’t look like that. Looking like a real woman means you’re a failure.
You learned that fat is shameful and skinny is beautiful. Fat is worthless and skinny is all that matters. That you can only love your body if it’s under a certain size.l
And Now You’re Unintentionally Teaching Your Own Daughers the Same Message
It breaks my heart to hear your pain and to know that as you stand in the mirror, averting your eyes and avoiding pictures, now your daughter watches the same way you once did.
People have justified the glorification of skinny, pretending it’s all about health. Pretending that it’s not okay to love your body if you are larger than “acceptable.” They say it’s not acceptable because it’s unhealthy.
But some part of you noticed that what’s considered an “acceptable body image” is anorexic. And you noticed that if it was truly about health, people would care about that fact. No, it’s not about health. It’s about skinny.
And you’ve learned that unless you are skinny, you cannot love your body. That a positive body image, for the average woman, is “unhealthy” and “pathetic.”
Love Your Body Anyway
I have a message for you. One that I pray will sink in, will give you hope, empower you and strengthen you in your fight to celebrate and love your body. I hope that it gives you strength to teach your children a different story about the value of their own bodies.
The standard for what body type is “acceptable” will change flavor a hundred more times in your lifetime. The pressure will always be thrown on you to “measure up.” It will be up to you to fight it.
And while that is not okay, it’s the current reality. We can make fundamental changes in our culture, but that takes time, and you deserve to love your body now.
You are both uniquely your own lovely person and also just like everyone else.
You are beautiful in your own way and the struggles that you have with loving your body are part of our common humanity.
And Teach Your Daughter to Love her Body, too
Most of us don’t meet that “standard of beauty” no matter what body image is currently in style. In fact, most of us “normal women” wear a size 14 or higher. We’re in this together.
It’s time you stop believing these ridiculous ideas that the number on the scale somehow measures your worth. You can let go of standards that don’t serve you–that aren’t healthy for you. And in doing so, you can teach your daughters to do the same.
Your weight doen’t change your beauty one way or the other. That number on the scale is completely irrelevant to your worth as a person and your value in this world.
It’s time to stop treating it as if it’s the most important measure of who you are.
You are beautiful as you are.
And worthy just as you are.
You are smart, kind, funny, caring, capable, lovely, charming, flat out kick ass…just as you are.
I hope to see you learn accept yourself without respect to your “numbers.” As you do, your daughter learns that she can accept herself, too. She learns that she is worthy regardless of whether her body meets this weeks’ ‘standard of beauty.’
Teach her by your example. Let her see you love your body, care for and treat it well.
Don’t show her that starving your body is somehow a good thing.
Teach her that her body is strong and capable and acceptable, just like yours.
The Work is Hard, but it is Worth Doing
What a remarkable gift to give yourself. What a life changing gift to give to your daughter. Perhaps when she is grown, it won’t feel so shaming to look at herself in the mirror or have her picture taken.
I know that shifting your beliefs about your body is hard work, but it must be done. It is time to screw the standards of beauty imposed on you and decide for yourself that you are beautiful.
It’s time to love your body. You deserve your own acceptance.
Your Fellow Woman
It’s taken me decades to start appreciating that my worth isn’t defined by my weight. I don’t have daughters but my husband & I are teaching our teen men to value more than just a woman’s appearance & to ensure that they understand that beautiful, healthy bodies come in all shapes & sizes.
I think it’s particularly important for men to appreciate the huge changes that women undergo during pregnancy & after childbirth as well & to dismiss as dangerous the ridiculous notion that women can & need to get back their pre-baby bodies ASAP or even ever, for that matter.
Wonderful post, Tia. I’m sharing this via Twitter so more women & men can read this. Cheers!
Judy Maree says
This hit me so hard. Your writing is amazing and I love how you have worded everything. It sucks that this image has been perpetuated throughout our lives and ingrained in our culture! I have just started my journey to accepting my body! Its been 2 months since I weighed myself, because you know what? who gives a crap what my weight? It is a completely meaningless number!! Please keep doing what youre doing xx
Linda Lind says
This is so beautiful. The set up with the daughter watching really amplifies the fact that this is working its way through generations and is not just a problem for one specific generation.
Extremely well executed and delivered with such care and compassion…❤️
Thank you for this beautiful post! This idea needs to be shared in society. Self-acceptance and self worth is so very important and not to conform to society’s molds that are put on people!
This post is so real and beautiful. Having 2 girls, I constantly worry about how society will view them in the future and how I want to teach them now how to love themselves (including their bodies) and not care about what society views as beautiful or not.
Andrea | First Mate Wifey says
This was beautiful and wonderfully written; thank you!
It really is shocking when you start to think of all the subliminal messaging we received from very early on in our lives.
Thank you. It’s always good to be reminded that we can love ourselves as we are.
John Dickson says
A wonderful post. While both sexes face body image issues, I believe that they’re more destructive with women and girls. Your message, that one can love oneself and celebrate your own body, is so badly needed.
Hollyn Donovan says
This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for writing and posting it. The way the world today views bodies and beauty is so distorted. Advocates like us really need to keep fighting for change in how the media portrays people’s bodies and how we as people talk about them too.