I’ve struggled with my body image for most of my life. Even when I was young and athletic and super-fit, I struggled, because the battle was in my mind, not on a scale.
I struggled when I went through early puberty while my friends were still sporting girlish figures.
I struggled when my thighs were solid-but-muscular because, although I was a star soccer player, I didn’t want to look like one.
I struggled when I put on pounds my junior year of high school due to depression, and I struggled when I got married at 19 to the world’s most amazing man because, amazing as he was, I was sure he’d wake up one day and realize he wasn’t attracted to me.
I struggled so much that at 22 I found myself smack dab in the middle of an eating disorder. I thought it would fix everything, but when I was at my thinnest, my most fit, the struggle only intensified. I thought a 120-something number on my scale would end the struggle once and for all, but no.
Now I’m a 34-year-old mother of three. My body is soft where it once was hard, and I have a solid one-pack that jiggles when I jump. I’m pretty sure my knees sport some cellulite, and I haven’t seen a 120-something number of my scale in 14 years. The truth is, I still struggle, but not nearly as much as I used to. I think this is mainly due to my understanding that life is too short to waste it away on such temporary things.
That, and the fact that I have a nine-year-old daughter who doesn’t know that she’s quickly approaching a lion’s den she doesn’t even realize exists. She doesn’t know that the fight of her life is coming, like it or not, and that there’s an entire world standing armed and ready to tell her she’s not enough unless she looks like a fallen Disney child star.
I will not have it. Will you?
It’s easy to feel like we as mothers are fighting a losing battle when it comes to culture’s perspective on beauty. Sex sells, and it’s everywhere, demanding our daughters’ innocence in exchange for acceptance and affirmation. In a culture that prides itself on the advancements we’ve made in the area of women’s rights, it’s amazing how we simultaneously accept the overt sexualization of our girls. We want to be taken seriously and treated as men’s equals, yet we celebrate this:
So, HANDS OFF.
That’s what I’m here to tell the world respecting my daughter. Don’t you dare touch her. At nine, she’s everything I wish I had been as a kid: confident, outgoing, funny, kind. She’s approaching puberty, which will hit her early as it did me. She has tiny girl-breasts and dimples on her tummy. She’s fierce and strong and well on her way to earning her black belt in karate. She loves to play soccer, and she loves bread. She rides her bike and plays outside and eats popcorn while watching her favorite movies. She wears mismatched patterns and clothes that are comfy and she doesn’t have a care in the world.
If you, World, take that away from her, I’ll hunt you down I will be your worst nightmare.