Friday, July 11, 2014

Raising Daughters with Body and Smart Positivity

I think I'm going to write another book...One that probably no one will read, but I think it's time to get a mom's perspective on making the choices on messaging we give our little girls about their bodies, and their smarts.  It's not easy.  I've tried so hard to make the right choices about what I "said" to my child and what I "showed" my child about body confidence and smarts confidence.

I put the effort into helping her develop her brain and spend just about equal efforts making sure she eats well, and enough to keep growing and thriving and being smart, and does enough to keep her body moving and getting strong.  I'd be lying if I told you that I also try to model body confidence and a complete lack of body shame when in fact, I carry more of it than even I dare to admit at the age of 41.  It shouldn't matter.  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter and I know it.  But I'm also acutely aware that what we say, who says it and how is what ultimately resonates and sticks with us for a lifetime.

I remember precisely the one and only time I was ever told by someone that I was "stunning" as a kid.  How frightening is that?  I could tell you precisely the time of year, approximately how old I was and who said it.  I could even tell you what general time of day it was.  EVERY OTHER MESSAGE I got as a child, whether it was spoken or subtext, sent me precisely the opposite message.  So often in fact that it has literally overshadowed my life, lifestyle choices and self confidence, and so much so that this singular moment in my childhood still shines out as if highlighted centre stage with a spot light.  How I wish in the constant drone of all the other messages I heard growing up, that it had been the one message I heard loudest.  Why did it have to be that I was 40, before I believed I could have been exactly what he saw when he saw it, instead of what everyone else told/showed me?

And the truth of the matter is, no one in my life truly did or said anything out of anything but love.  They worried about me, like I worry about my own daughter.  They only wanted what was best for me, but had no other idea of how to share that with me.  And the truth of the matter is also that they were affected by the very same messages they gave me.  They did their best.  Just like I am doing and millions of other very doting and conscientious moms out there in the big bad world.

Body positivity has to be modeled first and foremost.  And when you're raising a daughter mindfully, you recognize that approaching the messages of body positivity with vigilance and rebellion and passion fueled language isn't the best approach.  It absolutely has to be done loudly and proudly and visibly, and thank GOD there are men and women both out there beginning to fight this fight with vigor.  But when you're raising a daughter and you're alone with your family at home, you need to show her through your own self worth, your own confidence and your own bravado to ignore the words and ideals of others.  And let me tell you, this is nothing short of impossible to get 100% right.  And I'll also say, that no amount of "psycho babble bullshit" is going to help us raise our daughters better than good old fashioned instinct.  These are things only active and fully focused mom's with real lives and jobs and personal issues can speak to.

So I'm going to write another book.  One that hopefully brings a fresh set of non-medicinal thoughts to an issue that's at it's core, a gutteral view of how to navigate raising an equally mind and body positive contributor to society.  One that hopefully helps other Mom's like me who struggle daily, find a way to minimize and cope with a life long hurt locker full of shame and body inequity, while learning how not to do it in a way that makes them a vigilante or a target in this hate stoked society we live in.