It seems to be getting harder and harder for women and girls to escape the unrealistic beauty ideals that are shoved in our faces pretty much every day. And for those of us who are also raising girls, there’s even more pressure to shield them from self-criticism or disappointment in their own beautiful selves. But in a viral Facebook post, one mother is showing how she’s trying her best to change the way her daughter looks at the female body — both her mom’s and her own.
On March 20, Allison Kimmey, the creator of BodiPosi Posse, a Facebook group devoted to body positivity, wrote a Facebook post about a conversation she had with her little girl. The pair had been lying by the pool in their bathing suits when Kimmey’s daughter asked about her mom’s body — namely, the size of her stomach and her stretch marks.
The conversation began a little something like this:
Her: “Why is your tummy big mama?”
Me: “What do you mean baby?”
Her: “These lines, mama.” (Pointing to stretch marks on my tummy)
Me: “Oh those are my stretch marks!”
Her: “Where do they come from?”
At this point, Kimmey could have gotten upset. She could have responded negatively. She could have mentioned words like “fat” or “weight” or expressed dislike for her physical appearance. But she didn’t.
Instead, she continued:
Me: “Well when I was a little older than you, I got some stripes when I grew really fast! And some of these stripes are from when I had you growing in my tummy”
Her: Looking inquisitively
Me: “They are shiny and sparkly, aren’t they pretty?”
Her: “Yes, I like this one the best, it’s so glittery. When can I get some?”
Me: “Oh you will get your glitter stripes when you get a little bit older baby!”
Believing that her mother’s body is beautiful sets up a foundation of future self-love for any young girl — and it looks like Kimmey’s daughter is well on her way. She may in fact have stretch marks someday, just like her mom, and just like so many of do as our bodies continue to change. But if she spends her life fearing them, just because she’s been told they are ugly, she may miss out on the beauty in creating another life. And if she views her mother’s body as ugly, she may think the same of her own as she becomes a woman.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life in the United States. And most of those who suffer begin to show signs as young as 10 years old. This is why Allison’s message is so important. She ends her powerful and uplifting post with a message to all of us:
“IT MATTERS HOW WE TALK TO OUR DAUGHTERS ABOUT OUR BODIES! They are listening. They are asking. And it is up to YOU to help them shape how they will feel about these things!”
I could not agree more. I have struggled with self-criticism of my body since childhood; yet before I became a mother, I never really understood that it was a problem. Now, I have three little sets of eyes watching me and three little sets of ears listening to what I say about myself. Three perfect little people I grew in my womb. I have a beautiful, kind, generous daughter, and I want her to see all the good in herself when she looks in the mirror. So when I look at myself in the mirror, or put on a bathing suit, or exercise, I practice positivity, too. When she asks why I exercise, I tell her I do it to get stronger and to be healthy so I can live a very long life with her. I do not mention my weight, nor do I put myself down.
Allison Kimmey’s message is incredibly inspiring. Imagine the impact we’d have if we all showed our girls what it meant to love themselves? Let’s follow her lead and start today. Let’s stop calling ourselves fat or flabby or unattractive. Let’s put on our bathing suits and get in the picture, proudly, alongside our kids. Let’s have our girls witness us saying we are strong and beautiful. Then and only then will they look at their own bodies the same way.More On