Learning to Love My Body Is What's Best for My Daughter

mom and daughter in the mirrorOn paper, "learning to love your body" sounds like a silly waste of time. In fact, last week, XO Jane's editor Emily McCombs wrote an essay called "Why I'm Done Learning to Love My Body", stating that women deserve to stop thinking about their bodies altogether. It's amazing, and you should read it for yourself for a dose of body-positive girl power to kick off your week.

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Emily's simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking takedown of our collective obsession with measuring and grading women's bodies is absolutely right on. "Love your body" is a saccharine and trite idea that fits way too neatly in a headline. BUT. Learning to love ourselves, inside and out, is the only weapon we have to fight against all of the hate it gets every minute of every day.

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As we start to feel that creeping loathing of our thighs coming on, all we can do is tell ourselves, even if it's hollow, "I love you, fat thighs." Like a mantra. Hopefully, one day, all the love chanting will be enough to push back even a little against all the hate. Sort of like a "fake it 'til you make it" approach.

And as a mother, all I can do to shield my daughter from an onslaught of body loathing is to try to give her a healthy foundation of love.

Those big, beautiful feet I can't help but kiss are probably going to embarrass her one day. She'll start to hate to wear her glasses. Her gorgeous, long legs that make her stand a head taller than everyone else will probably make her want to scrunch down to blend in with the crowd. She'll be told she's ugly and that there are "fixes" to every part of her. And it makes we want to cry.

It's my job to teach her to love her body as much as I do. It's my job to try to show her how a woman who loves herself acts. And so, I try like hell to "love my body" -- not just for myself, for her.

Because I know the world she's going to inhabit as her 5-year-old body matures into womanhood. One that measures and judges and criticizes and tells her that nothing she can ever be or do is as important as how she looks. Not how she feels or what she thinks or what she accomplishes -- how she looks. All I can do is try to give her the tools to know better.

So, I go through the stupid exercise and try to "love my body" despite what I see in the mirror and how I stack up to the prettier, younger, thinner, and more stylish women around me and hope even a fraction of it sticks. Maybe eventually it will. Maybe "loving myself" is the first step toward my daughter's generation being freed from caring about how they look at all.

But in the meantime, it's the best weapon we've got. Never stop trying to love yourself. You never know when you might actually start to believe the hype.

 

Image via Xavier Arnau/iStock

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