Over a year ago one of my coworkers shared a blog post, on our corporate social media site, written by a mom who realized that she was in very few pictures with her children. She always deleted pictures of herself because she was unhappy with the way she looked. Her double chin. Her lack of makeup. Her hair wasn't perfectly coiffed.
While reading it I realized I do the same thing. All the time. Either that or I am the one taking the pictures. I went to school partially for photography and so I spend a lot of time documenting my family from behind the lens. The only problem with that is that I very rarely end up in front of it. Most of the time I'm OK with that. But when I read the blog post I decided that I wanted that to stop.
After my coworker posted this all of the moms in the group posted pics of ourselves with our littles and vowed to be better at doing so...
But I didn't stick with it.
I stayed critical of myself and too ashamed to keep a picture that showed my double chin. It occurred to me, the other day, that in doing this, I have inadvertently shown M, at a very impressionable time in his life, when he is starting to recognize the beauty of the female form, that the "ideals" of beauty that are promoted in the general consciousness by the media, really are the standards that he should be holding the young women he is starting to notice to.
I realized this when I heard him talking with a family friend at a NYE party. He was complimenting her hair and telling her she looked great and she responded with "Oh...no I don't. I look a mess" and I thought to myself...how many times have I said that, or done that and shown him that his compliments, the way he views me, what he loves about me...are the things I can't stand about myself.
How many times has he heard me call myself ugly, fat, a cow?
How many times has he heard me say that I hate my hair?
How many times has he heard me say I wish my butt was just a bit smaller?
How many times has he told me he thinks I am beautiful only to hear me tell him that I am not...in one way or another?
How many times have I told him to change the way he views me....without realizing it?
It made me so sad. To think that I am teaching my son that I am and should be ugly to him.
I shouldn't be.
And not only that... I am teaching him that I, as a woman, find a womanly and motherly shape to be disgusting and undesirable. How can I ever teach him that a woman's body is beautiful in all it's forms if I reject his ideal of beauty when he thinks me beautiful?
I'm not teaching him how to love his future wife. I'm teaching him to look for the impossible.
He once asked me if porn was something he should watch and I responded with "I'd rather you didn't, at least not until after you have had your first few sexual experiences...which of course shouldn't happen until you're 40 or I'm dead." When he asked me why I explained that while porn is becoming more and more acceptable it isn't becoming more and more realistic. The women in those movies are paid to "enjoy" it. Its not "real" even though its real. The representations of a relationship in porn are in no way similar to real life relationships and that I would think he would want to experience his first sexual relationship free of expectations that won't be achievable by either party. He seemed to understand my point. How can you truly enjoy something real if all you have to compare it to is a lie?
Then I wiped away the metaphorical sweat and gave myself a congratulatory mental back pat...That had not been a topic I had expected to address with him. But I love that he asks me these things and feels comfortable doing so, so I will continue to try my hardest to give him the non-judgmental answers he deserves.
But here I am...giving him a false expectation. Every time I tell him I'm fat or reject a compliment either from him or in front of him, I am reinforcing a preconceived idea of beauty that is incorrect. I am essentially telling him that Hollywood's idea of beauty is the truth. Silicone, starvation, thigh gaps. All of it is true.
Every time I duck the camera or delete a picture of myself with him or G or Husband-Man or R...I am telling him I am not beautiful.
I'm also deleting myself from my children's lives.
How are they going to remember what I looked like when I'm gone if they don't have a picture of me?
How are they going to show my grandbabies what I looked like when they were their age...if they don't have a picture?
I have to stop this. I have to stop judging myself and robbing my children of memories of me. And have to learn to accept that while I may not always be pleased with my appearance...They don't see it. They don't view me through my eyes. They view me through eyes filled with love. They don't see the double chin. They she the smile above it and the lips that kiss them.
So...I'm just going to encourage you to join me in a New Years Resolution that is very much worth keeping.
This year, I am going to love myself. I am going to love myself every day.
I am going to look in the mirror and tell me that I am beautiful. I'm even going to try to believe it.
I am going to take pictures with my babies as often as I can.
I am going to say "Thank you" when some one compliments me.
I'm going to accept my differences and my double chin (though I plan to work on ridding myself of it because I am not healthy) and I'm not going to delete a picture or untag myself in a picture on FB.
I am going to talk with M and Husband-Man and let them know that I need them to call me on these things if I slip. Because I need to start speaking to myself in a loving way. No more name calling when standing in front of the mirror or looking at a picture.
No more Mean Girlling myself. No more hating my jiggly thighs or post-baby belly.
Because I really want to learn to see myself the way my babies see me. I think I just might be beautiful.
Who's with me?