For the first time ever, I was a mom for spring break. My man and I took the kids to an indoor water park for a long weekend and had an incredible time. Because I am female, I spend as much or more time as the men looking at other women’s bodies when we’re all on display in our swimsuits. My reasons differ, of course: I compare myself to them, see where I fit in the array of physical femininity, and try to decide how happy (or unhappy) my man is with my body, based not on what he tells me but on how I appraise it compared all the others.
That’s totally sick, isn’t it?
But I spent upwards of 24 hours engaged in exactly that, and it was maddening. Usually those thoughts happen on such a subconscious level that I continue about my business barely registering them, but this time was different. I had my daughter with me, and the thought of her thinking those things broke my heart. She’s dazzlingly lovely, and I want her to know it. I want her to know that she’s perfect the way she is. She so beautifully reflects her dad’s gorgeous Italian traits set on the smooth, olive-toned Native American skin she got from her mother’s side. She can choose to treat her body kindly or not, but it’s a perfect snowflake of a body that should never be disrespected by anyone, including her. Which is precisely what I was doing to mine.
And the thing is, every body I saw was “imperfect” compared to the cinematic, airbrushed ideal. Flabbiness was everywhere. Cellulite passed me every few seconds. Moles and discolorations marked almost everyone. My body is no better or worse than the others I saw. In fact, underneath our skin we all house the same snowflake perfection I identify so easily in my daughter. Some women treat their bodies more kindly than others – I have to work on this too – but God-designed perfection is our common trait. Besides, my body does so many wonderful things: it walks, dances, swims, makes love, stretches, hugs, laughs, twirls, and bends. How could I be anything other than deeply thankful for a body like that?
I hope, down in my core, that my daughter never forgets she’s beautiful. Jealous girls and lonely boys might try to convince her otherwise, whether they use words or not. Her dad’s voice, mom’s voice, and stepmom’s voice will be drowned out on occasion. So for my own part, I’m trying to be preemptive. I’m trying to remind myself that I am perfect and beautiful, and I’m trying to listen to my man and my dad tell me the same thing. Maybe if I can remember it for myself, I can role model it and help my daughter remember too. She’s worth it, and so am I.