It’s 10pm, I’m sitting on the floor, and my five week old daughter is sitting in her Boppy in front of me, watching me pump breast milk. I’m silently praying that she goes to sleep soon because I’m hungry, and to keep from eating and gaining weight, I want to go to sleep. But no. She’s just watching me. I then realize that she’s been watching me a lot lately. When I cook, she watches me. When I pick up stuff around the house, she watches me. When I watch her, she watches me. She watches every little thing that I do.
So, what am I teaching her from her watching me? What will I be teaching her from her watching me? What is she learning from watching me? What will she learn from watching me?
I grew up WATCHING my mom be on diet after diet after diet. I grew up WATCHING my grandma be on diet after diet after diet. My mom put me on my first diet when I was five years old in kindergarten. I remember being five, not wanting to eat lunch at school because I learned that I was fat. My entire life has been looking in the mirror and finding something wrong. My entire life has been examining myself, never being content. My whole life has been me living what I learned from WATCHING my mom and grandma do—be my worst critic with nothing constructive.
I cannot even leave my house to check the mailbox without drawing my eyebrows on. My calendar is marked for every six weeks to get a relaxer on my hair. I have a long list of fabrics to not wear because I’m not “built for that”. That list is accompanied by the list of colors I can’t wear because “I’m too dark to be seen in that color”. I dare not laugh because then my pointy chin will show.
Every day, I tell my daughter that she is beautiful, perfect, created in God’s image, she needs to change nothing about the way she looks. When will I start telling myself that? How can I tell my daughter to love the way that she looks when she sees her mom go to bed hungry seven days a week out of fear of gaining weight? How can I expect her to believe me when I tell her that her black is beautiful when she sees her mama changing one of the very things that makes her black—her coarse hair? Why should I expect her to listen to me when I tell her not to change a thing about herself when day in day out, she’s watching her mama walk in heels to hide the fact that she’s short? How can I teach her that God made us all in His image if she’s watching me find the next thing wrong with myself?
She is watching me. What am I teaching?
No, I’m not giving myself permission to be so overweight that I have to be airlifted out of my house after they tear a wall down. She will watch me pursue HEALTHY, instead of a number. She will not see me live attached to a scale that dictates my happiness. I’m not taking away the permission that I gave myself to wear lipstick to church. There’s nothing wrong with me wearing heels on date night. I’m not giving myself permission to leave the house unkempt. I am simply giving myself permission to love me. And by my daughter watching me love myself, that gives her permission to love herself.
I give my daughter permission to love herself.
More than just love herself-- embrace herself. Flaunt herself. Be proud of herself. Boldly claim herself. And everything that makes her… her.