As a mother of three, I’ve encountered a few A-ha moments that have left me speechless. The first time was when I realized that boys are just as sensitive as girls and my heart exploded into a thousand pieces, wanting to snuggle the heck out of my two sons. The most recent realization came when it dawned on me that what I say about my own body has a significant effect on the way my children view the female body, as well as their self-worth.
Brittany Johnson realized this too in her now super viral Facebook post that has been shared more than 153k times since she posted it on May 8. In it, she shares a photo of herself standing inside a store’s dressing room while trying on a bathing suit. Her daughter can be seen in the shot too, trying on one of the suits that her mom has just disregarded. In fact, Johnson reveals that her daughter had done this with every single one she’d rejected.
“Do you think I look beautiful too?!” Johnson’s daughter asked her, while standing in one of the swimsuits. And that was when Johnson had her A-ha moment.
“See that sweet baby girl in the corner? With half a dress on and one of the bikini tops I had picked out?” Johnson wrote. “I stopped for a second to see what she would say and when she turned to the mirror, she said ‘Wow I just love cheetah print! I think I look beautiful! Do you think I look beautiful too?!’ … when it hit me that she only says what she hears. What she sees. I tell her that she is beautiful every single day. She is kind walking through the mall, because I tell her she is kind everywhere else. She is polite at the order counter because she hears me when I’m polite to strangers everywhere. She gives compliments to people she doesn’t know because she loves how it feels when she hears them … “
Johnson goes on to describe in poetic detail the many ways in which our job as parents is to nurture our kids through example. We cannot just tell our kids to be kind; we must show our kids what being kind actually looks like. Every. Single. Day.
“When it comes to manners, be an example. When it comes to kindness, be an example. And when it comes to body image, be an example. I am not a size zero. I never will be. I have big thighs and a huge rump and for some reason the middle of my body gets more tan than the rest? But this body made a whole other body. I am strong. I am able. And I am happy. I don’t have to be beautiful like you, because I am beautiful like me.”
The big beautiful lesson in this awesomely perfect Facebook post is that as moms and dads and caretakers, we hold the power to mold our kids into being incredibly kind, empathetic, and self-empowered people.
Kudos to this mom for pointing this out and for demonstrating to the Internet what great parenting really looks like. I have no doubt that the future of Johnson’s little girl will be fiercely bright.