I was bullied online this week.
Someone took a look at my social media photos and chose to knock down my body with hurtful words. It naturally stung for a few minutes. But then another feeling emerged, and it took me by surprise.
It was love.
After almost two decades of harmful dieting practices and low self-esteem, I’ve been recently focused on embracing my post-baby body. I’ve spent all year retraining my head and heart to believe that I am a worthy human being, no matter what size I wear or how my body appears to others. So now in those moments when I feel low, love beautifully settles in to remind me how much value I truly possess.
Body-positive role model Allison Kimmey is one of the biggest reasons I embarked on that self-love journey to begin with. Which is part of the reason why a poignant story she shared on Instagram yesterday has hit me right in the heart, yet again.
Alongside an adorable photo of Kimmey and her daughter Cambelle, who are both wearing bathing suits, the mom writes about how a cheerleading teammate recently called her 5-year old’s tummy “fat” when her shirt came up a bit during a practice. Cambelle felt passionate about telling Kimmey exactly how the conversation proceeded after the hurtful comment, and reading her mother’s account of the exchange is enough to pull at the heart strings.
She writes: “’Oh no, here we go,’ I thought to myself. But I said: ‘Oh really? And what did you say to her?””
“I told her that I’m not fat, I HAVE fat,” her daughter relayed. “And that everybody has fat. And I told her it’s okay to have fat.”
At this point, Kimmey realizes all the body-loving principles she’s been teaching her kiddos are starting to pay off. And what makes her daughter’s response particularly special is that it’s exactly what her mom said back in June when Cambelle called her “fat.”
Kimmey was blown away by her daughter’s ability to not only remember her words, but also respectfully put them into practice.
“I couldn’t believe that my 5-year-old daughter had been able to handle a situation with more grace than most 30-year-olds,” Kimmey notes in her post.
But Cambelle didn’t stop there. After finishing her story, she apologized again for what she said to her mom two months ago. And her mama responded by encouraging her daughter once more, by saying, “The most important thing is that you learned, and now you can teach others and help change the world.”
As Kimmey shares, it’s her belief that children aren’t born with hate inside of them. They learn from those around them how to treat others with either kindness or meanness. And by leading a loving example, the blogger hopes to positively impact how her children exist in society.
“I can’t prepare my daughter for all of life’s situations, but I can help her to be a voice of compassion, humility and love,” she explains. “And to anyone that will undoubtedly say that this is ‘promoting obesity,’ please understand that preventing childhood bullying before it can even start is not a matter of weight, but of character.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling all the feels for this extraordinary mother-daughter duo!
While it was painful to witness her daughter being confronted like this at such a young age, Kimmey tells Babble that Cambelle’s courage and grace have completely inspired her.
“I certainly felt that tug on my heartstrings that my daughter would have to face what I and many others faced growing up,” she says. “But as she continued telling me what had happened … I was overjoyed with her ability to share a message to kids her own age, just as I hope to do for women and girls.”
When asked what parents can do to help embolden their children with self-acceptance, Kimmey says we will always be their best example. And since our little ones hear and see just about everything we do, it’s essential to consistently speak as kindly to ourselves as we do to them.
“Stop stepping on the scale and groaning at the number,” she says. “Stop talking about how many calories are in everything and how you’ve given up carbs … [or] how you can’t wear something because you have cellulite. All of these are messages being sent to little wondering minds, which is my best guess as to why this little girl even came up with the idea to tell Cambelle her tummy was fat in the first place.”
Beyond finding worth in our physical bodies, Kimmey hopes we as a culture will begin to focus on a holistic idea of health that includes mind, body, and spirit. And she urges us to start with how we encourage our children.
“Empower them through what they can do and achieve, instead of what they look like,” she urges. “Especially in these times, [we’re] evolving as humans and learning to embrace … all different shapes, sizes, colors and abilities.”
This awesome mama is also taking her message and adapting it to an empowering children’s book called Glitter Stripes.
“We are hoping to land a contract with a publishing company very shortly to bring to life the story of Glitter Stripes, along with a full series of body confidence books for children!” she tells Babble.
I’m going to say with full assurance that children will not be the only ones to benefit from Kimmey’s body-positive books. Her work uplifts so many women and men who struggle to love themselves on a daily basis, which makes her — and her little girl! — a modern day hero for people like me.