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I sit at the dinner table with my daughter discussing the day’s events.
For the last year and a half, we had spent a lot of time together since she was attending school virtually and I worked from home due to the pandemic.
She is back in school now, so we don’t see each other as much as we did. I am still working from home.
So, these dinners together are the highlight of my day.
“How was your day, sweetie?” I ask.
“It was good. How was your day, Mom?” She says between bites of her salad.
“Lonely without you. I miss having you here during the day. I have no one to talk to anymore.” I smile sweetly at her.
“But you finally get some quiet time by yourself during the workday. You could even walk around naked if you wanted to.” She laughs as she speaks.
“Yeah, I totally can. But I won’t. I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin.” I laugh.
“Neither do I.” She says seriously.
The conversation haunts me for the rest of the evening. Why does she not feel comfortable in her own skin? My 16-year-old daughter shouldn’t feel this way.
I think back to when I was a teenager. I would stare in the mirror as the words bounced in my brain: you look like a kid. My naked body, small and thin. My undeveloped breasts and lack of hips showed me I was clearly still a kid. I felt different; I had my period like everyone else. Yet I had no confidence, judging myself based on my kid-like body. I had no sexy bossiness.
As small as this moment felt, it followed me. I wouldn’t develop into a woman until I looked like one. And even after that, I still didn’t feel comfortable in this body that was handed to me.
My period came incredibly late. And people always asked what was wrong with my body as if I had a choice in the matter. How could I love myself and my body if it wasn’t functioning as expected? How could I love my body if it didn’t look as attractive or delicious as everyone else my age? A body that boys would find attractive?
I had a constant battle with myself. Alone, I would stand tall and loudly declare myself victorious, not a victim. But once I was in school with my friends, I went back to being the little girl who was uncomfortable with her own undeveloped body.
In this journey, I learned early on that young men are attracted to women who are beautiful—who have all the right curves and long, luscious hair. A journey of everything must be shaped by what is expected to begin with.
To be hot, you had to have a body and a doll face. I know things are as we perceive them and this is what I saw growing up in school.
I remember my first experience with sex. The most intimidating part of it wasn’t even the fact that I was about to give myself to someone for the first time. It was that I had to undress in front of him. He was about to see all of me. A body I hated. A body that I was ashamed of. I wasn’t even comfortable with taking my clothes off when I was alone, let alone in front of my lover.
I stood there, naked, and watched his eyes as they roomed my entire body. I felt shy and uncomfortable. I wasn’t confident or sexy.
I know my body is important, and yet, I don’t treat it the best I can. My journey from being a girl to a woman wasn’t a golden rainbow with sprinkles on top. It was more of a comparison journey with hot, young girls whom I resented at the time simply for having a different, more women-like body compared to mine.
And this discomfort didn’t change as my life moved along.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I watched as the body I was already uncomfortable with change daily in front of my eyes. My belly grew along with every other part of my body. I watched in horror as even my toes grew larger. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening to me.
Instead of appreciating the amazing gift that was happening, I cringed at my naked growing body every chance I could.
It was even worse after I gave birth. I had to endure a plump body that would never go back to the way it was. And all of a sudden, I missed my pre-pregnancy body in the worst way. The same body I hated my entire life was now terribly missed because at least that body didn’t have stretch marks, wide hips, or sagging boobs.
I have spent my entire life hating my body. But we should all feel comfortable in our own skin. We all have the right and responsibility to love our bodies. It’s the first thing people see before we even speak. Our body holds our entire package together: our mind, heart, and soul.
Just as each person has their own identity and personality, each person has their own body. Our body is something we can all learn to accept, fall in love with, and feel comfortable in.
I need to finally begin to feel comfortable in my own skin. I must teach my daughter to love herself—fully and completely —including the body she was born in.
The only way I can change this is by giving it attention. To learn to love me, one word at a time. One embrace at a time. One kind word over an insulting one every day.
So here it is:
To my body.
I don’t need validation from anyone on the body I was given. I won’t compare myself to anyone else. This is not a competition. My body is mine and no one else’s. I wouldn’t be me without my own unique body. Every curve belongs to me and me alone.
I am going to treat my body well. This includes eating things that are good for my body to make it function properly. And I won’t punish myself if I decide to have a piece of wedding cake. We can eat that cake if we want to.
I can see now that you have been my home—the most precious possession I could ever have. Without my body, my soul wouldn’t have a place to live.
My feet have carried all my dreams, my skin has felt what love is. Our skin wraps the organs that keep our bodies living; every organ is important. Let’s stop questioning our diet for size but question it to see how good and energized we feel with what we eat.
I need to begin to build confidence in my body. I won’t quickly undress and dress again in order to avoid the mirror. I will look in the mirror and thank my body for each and every part of it.
My eyes let me see the beauty all around me. My legs take me to that park so I can nourish my body with a run. My arms can hug my friends.
I need to accept my weaknesses regarding my body. I accept all the flaws in this body. My short legs, which people who can’t walk would appreciate. With my not-so-flat belly, I carried three beautiful babies. My small boobs, I don’t always have to wear a bra.
I am making my own rules when it comes to my body. My body represents strength, confidence, beauty, sexiness, intelligence, and bravery.
It represents the most important thing in the world…
It represents the fact that we are alive.
To be comfortable in our own skin, we don’t need to be proud of our bodies all of the time. We don’t need to be conceded. But we can have confidence in every part of who we are, including in our body that shines through to the entire world.
Let the world see our confidence. But before that, let’s see ourselves.
Let’s see ourselves with love and be proud of every part of who we are. Proud of those hands that have worked so hard. Proud of those feet that are always there to walk one more step. Proud of our breasts that can nourish a baby’s life. Proud of that belly that makes us so happy when we eat delicious and nutritious food, and also when we don’t.
We can’t go back and delete all the judgments and rejections. But we can for sure make a difference to our bodies today.
I stand in front of the mirror with gratitude and kind words for a change.
What I see in front of me is, “Thank you. You are f*cking precious.”
We are alive. Let’s be proud of that.
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