It’s no secret that we women have trouble feeling comfortable in our own skin. When we look in the mirror, we pick ourselves apart. When we turn on the TV or leave the house, we compare ourselves to the women around us — and all too often find ourselves lacking. We can’t help wishing we had been born with a different feature, hair color, bone structure, or body type.
But it’s time for us to stop. It’s time for us all to stop picking ourselves apart and analyzing all our perceived “flaws.” If you have a daughter, you owe it to her to find the strength within to stop this ugly habit before she learns from you.
I have been actively making an effort to have a healthier relationship with my own body, which has grown rounder and less perky as time progresses. I noted how my daughter reacted when I told her I was on a diet and it made me focus on being healthy instead of trying to be thin. Seeing how my daughter was unhappy with her own hair made me question how I was sending her the wrong message by straightening my own natural curls. She isn’t the only one who wished she had straight hair. According to a survey from Dove, only four in ten little girls with curly hair think their hair is beautiful. When I was a teen, I also complained about my curls and felt they always made me stand out. As an adult, my first instinct when I had a special occasion was to get a blow-out, as if I needed to change a part of myself to be prettier.
Over the last few months, it’s been a lot of work to actively stop criticizing myself — you don’t realize how often it happens until you start to take notice — but each day has been worth it. As a result, my daughter no longer monitors her weight. She has stopped brushing out her waves as soon as she gets out of the shower. She is wearing her hair loose most of the time, but when she braids it, it’s because she feels like it and not because she wants to hide her natural waves. She has also stopped asking to get a blow-out just like me, probably because I haven’t gotten one in months. I’m embracing my curls and by doing that, she is learning to love her own hair, too.
Aside from the physical appearance aspect of these issues, I have stopped putting myself down. Loving yourself inside and out is key, and if we truly want to raise strong, confident girls so they can grow up to be even stronger women, we need to start at home and show them it’s possible. Every time you criticize yourself out loud, you’re not only bringing yourself down but you’re also sending a message to your little girl about how critical she should be of herself. Your relationship with yourself shows her how she should view herself — and how critical she should be of her appearance.
It’s not a matter of not having expectations or not trying to improve who you are or your health. Instead, it’s about embracing our imperfections and finding a way to love our individual beauty and personalities, and enhancing what we do have. In the end, if we are always combating who we are, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
By loving myself more, my daughter is learning to love herself as well. That is a gift in and of itself and I cannot wait to see the woman she will become as a result.