To My Daughter, Who Walked In on Me Judging My Body

Daughter, I failed you today.

I’ve been a hypocrite. You may only be 3, but I work every day to teach you that your body is your own. Your body is more than the size it takes up or the shape it’s formed into. I want you to know your body is something so much more than something to be looked at and judged. I want you to always hear my voice in your head telling you your beauty and worth are in your spirit, your words, your kindness and actions. I want you to echo that out into the world to other women.

I know I am your greatest influence. I know how you view your worth and your body may ultimately come from me.

As I refused to eat the dessert at the Christmas party because “it’ll go straight to my gut,” I let you down. When I commented on a woman’s appearance on the TV, complimenting how great she looked after weight loss, I messed up. Today, as I stood in the mirror, half-clothed, crying, thinking about how uncomfortable I was in my own skin, I failed.

But I didn’t remember that until your beautiful face came in, until your little arms hugged me. You grabbed me right on the stomach I had just wished away. You ran your fingers over the stretch marks I try so hard to hide. You looked me right in my puffy, tear-filled eyes and said, “Pretty Momma!”

Most days I am confident with how I look and how I feel, but I worry I may never be able to completely banish those thoughts about my flaws and imperfections. I know every time you catch me focusing on my physical insecurities, you learn a lesson that could hurt you or force you into this battle I face.

I want more for you. I know I can’t protect you from the messages you receive from the outside world. I know life is messy and you will struggle to understand or see your worth.

I will treat my body like my friend. I will practice self-forgiveness. I will practice gratitude. I will use not only my voice but my actions to teach you through example that you are beautiful and worthy and whole, just as you are. I failed today. I will do better, for you. And for me. Because as you grab my body, the same body I cried over moments before, I see through your eyes. You see me just as I am: beautiful and worthy. And I remember it, too.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

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