Tag Archives: self esteem

Beauty. Babies. Bathrooms.

Not coincidentally, most of the blog posts that I write that really resonate with readers are the very same posts that really resonate with me.  The posts that make me laugh or cry, make me introspective and reflective, make me transparent and emotional.  This is one of those posts.

My five-year-old daughter wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so I kept her home from school.  She wasn’t really sick, just not quite herself, and a full day of rest for her seemed like a better choice than sticking her into the first-day-after-March-break Kindergarten chaos.  Her tired little body needed to stay in pyjamas, to watch movies, and to re-energize.  Mondays are an 11:00-7:00 day for me at the clinic, and my husband was unable to take the day off, so my in-laws stepped in and agreed to play nursemaid.  But before I took her to their place, we stopped into one of my happy places to sneak in a workout.  I saw my 9am crew, completed week four of the five-week Crossfit Open competition, and set her up with an iPad, crackers, and water.

It was after the workout that she threw me for a loop.  She was sitting on the vanity in the women’s changeroom as I applied my makeup, getting ready for work.  “Why do you need that mommy?” she asked, pointing to my eyeshadow.  “What does it do?”

Radio silence.

“Well, it makes my eyes look brighter,” I said.  And as she asked about each subsequent piece of makeup, I explained away concealer and powder and eyeliner and mascara as “it makes my skin smoother” or “it makes my eyelashes darker,” stumbling to find words to minimize the aesthetic component of cosmetics.  As I spoke, I cringed inside, realizing that this is where it starts.  This is where she starts to learn about society’s rules of beauty.  This is where she starts to learn about her beauty.  Her worth.  Her value.  Am I being too dramatic?  If you think so, then I will boldly tell you that you’re wrong.

Now, I don’t wear much makeup as it is, and you can often find my face completely bare, but nonetheless I swayed her views, however unintentional, to believe that having smooth skin, bright eyes, and dark eyelashes are desirable.  I fuelled the machine that believes that young skin, blonde hair, and a thin body defines beauty.  I contributed to the belief that natural looks are not good enough and I influenced my own daughter towards an ideal that I don’t even believe in myself, yet have somehow bought into.  My history of disordered eating is no secret, and I’ve written about it a few times; I still feel emotionally stripped down and exposed when I read those posts.  But with adulthood and hindsight and years of self-reflection under my belt, I’m sure that disordered eating also falls into the realm of beauty and self-worth too.  And it starts young.

So what should I have done?  What should I have said?  The truth is, I don’t know.  But I do know that I find parenting my daughter much trickier than parenting my son, because of social issues like this.  Beauty.  Value.  Self-esteem.  Uuugh, it’s just all so damn hard.

I’m trying to raise my little girl to value her brain.  And her abilities.  And her kindness.  Even if the world at large values hair extensions and self-tanner more.  It starts young and it starts with us.  And maybe, just maybe, it starts on a bathroom vanity at the gym.

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For those Still Searching for Skinny…

Sigh.

It’s not often that I re-blog something.  But this week I feel like I need to.  I had a patient in my practice earlier this week criticizing her non-existent “fat”, a friend who spoke about “losing 10 pounds”, and an acquaintance whose teenage daughter is battling the early stages of an eating disorder.  Three strikes of the post-it-again bell wins the prize.

I’m sorry that I needed to write this post to begin with.  I’m very sorry that I needed to re-post it.

We need to change the mindset.

*****

This post makes me sad.  It makes me sad for all of the hours spent, the energy wasted, and the food-related guilt and shame in my quest for “skinny.”  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m unique in this quest, and that’s what makes me even more upset.

I’m sad for the 8-year-olds who use the word “diet”.  I’m sad for the teenage girls who think they’re fat.  I’m sad for the 20-somethings who eat only grapes and rice crackers.  I’m sad for the moms who hate their bodies.  I’m sad, because I’ve been there.  That used to be me.

photo-31In fact, I came across an old competitive running journal of mine, which I wrote in my early 20s, and that’s what prompted this post.  Aside from writing down my daily mileage (which, at the time, was upwards of an obsessive I-must-run 100kms/week) I also recorded how “fat” I felt.  I was 135lbs, wore a size 6, and most of my journal entries centered around varying degrees of “feeling fat”.  Because skinny runners run faster, right?  Skinny girls are pretty, right?  Skinny is perfect, right?

I’ve always struggled with body image, but seeing this journal years later made me see how far I’ve come.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad moments, bad days, bad thoughts, and sometimes the body image beast still rages; but the tide has shifted.  My relationship with food has changed (“Food for Thought”), which is my biggest personal victory.  I no longer look at numbers on the scale and on clothing tags.  Ironically, as my obsession with weight and calorie-counts have decreased, those numbers haven’t changed much almost 15 years and two kids later.  I now look at numbers in my training journal:  I can deadlift 225lbs.  I can climb a rope.  I can do 10 pullups in a row and I can do “real” pushups from my toes.  But more importantly, I look at my daughter.  I can see her looking at me, and she’s learning how to define beauty and self-acceptance.

I hope that these very personal, very honest revelations don’t ring true with you, my female readers.  But I suspect that they will for many.  That’s why I wrote this.  That’s why I pushed past my should-I-shouldn’t-I doubts and feelings of uncomfortable vulnerability into complete openness and soul-baring confessions.  I hope that you can find a way to look at your body as strong instead of fat, as capable instead of weak, as beautiful instead of ugly.  Don’t seek skinny, seek acceptance.  And most of all, certainly most of all, I hope you can teach your daughters to do the same.

accept yourself

 

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The Search for Skinny

This post makes me sad.  It makes me sad for all of the hours spent, the energy wasted, and the food-related guilt and shame in my quest for “skinny.”  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m unique in this quest, and that’s what makes me even more upset.

I’m sad for the 8-year-olds who use the word “diet”.  I’m sad for the teenage girls who think they’re fat.  I’m sad for the 20-somethings who eat only grapes and rice crackers.  I’m sad for the moms who hate their bodies.  I’m sad, because I’ve been there.  That used to be me.

photo-31In fact, I came across an old competitive running journal of mine, which I wrote in my early 20s, and that’s what prompted this post.  Aside from writing down my daily mileage (which, at the time, was upwards of an obsessive I-must-run 100kms/week) I also recorded how “fat” I felt.  I was 135lbs, wore a size 6, and most of my journal entries centered around varying degrees of “feeling fat”.  Because skinny runners run faster, right?  Skinny girls are pretty, right?  Skinny is perfect, right?

I’ve always struggled with body image, but seeing this journal years later made me see how far I’ve come.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad moments, bad days, bad thoughts, and sometimes the body image beast still rages; but the tide has shifted.  My relationship with food has changed (“Food for Thought”), which is my biggest personal victory.  I no longer look at numbers on the scale and on clothing tags.  Ironically, as my obsession with weight and calorie-counts have decreased, those numbers haven’t changed much almost 15 years and two kids later.  I now look at numbers in my training journal:  I can deadlift 225lbs.  I can climb a rope.  I can do 10 pullups in a row and I can do “real” pushups from my toes.  But more importantly, I look at my daughter.  I can see her looking at me, and she’s learning how to define beauty and self-acceptance.

I hope that these very personal, very honest revelations don’t ring true with you, my female readers.  But I suspect that they will for many.  That’s why I wrote this.  That’s why I pushed past my should-I-shouldn’t-I doubts and feelings of uncomfortable vulnerability into complete openness and soul-baring confessions.  I hope that you can find a way to look at your body as strong instead of fat, as capable instead of weak, as beautiful instead of ugly.  Don’t seek skinny, seek acceptance.  And most of all, certainly most of all, I hope you can teach your daughters to do the same.

accept yourself

 

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