When my daughter, Ali, was born, I was determined to create a powerful woman to whom body image meant nothing more than "Is my body strong enough to do what I want it to do and is it healthy." This is a far different body image than I have..."Is my body thin enough, tan enough, tall enough, is my face the right shape, nose the right length, hair the right cut, etc."
So since she's been old enough to stand in front of a mirror, Ali heard from me, "Wow, your legs are so powerful, your arms are so strong, look at your nice, straight back, etc." And I never knew if it had any effect.
Well, now Ali is in middle school and body image is of the utmost importance. She complains when I refuse to shop in Abercrombie (I will NOT pay $40 for a t-shirt she will outgrow in 6 months), has begun wearing make-up, and spends an awful lot of time on her hair and clothes each day. And I started hearing about her body...negatively. "This girl's stomach is flatter, this one's legs are longer, this one is beautiful, not like me." So I really had to begun to think all my work was in vain. No matter how hard I tried, she couldn't be convinced that she is a beautiful girl growing into a beautiful woman.
We just got out of the pool. Since it was just me, Ali, and Frank, I wasn't concerned about looks. I threw on a suit and jumped in. We had a blast. When it was all over, I got out to shower. Ali followed and, while she waited for the water to warm up, she began examining herself in the mirror. She looks at her body, looks at me, and says, "We have the same bodies. Look, my legs, my stomach, even this line here." I immediately cringe, thinking "Poor thing, she's right." I get ready to apologize for my genes when I notice her face. She's smiling...hugely. She thinks it's cool to look just like Mom! She's not upset at those legs, that stomach, those arms. She loves that we are the same.
Maybe, something worked afterall. And, maybe, it's time for me to start believing that I am a beautiful woman!