As a little girl, my first memory of my mother was how soft she was. She always smelled amazing and had the perfect soft belly to hug. Soft is the word I would use to describe the first memory of my mother’s body.
As a little girl, my first memory of my own body was how strong and fast I was. I could sprint down the street faster than any of the kids. I could lift things other kids couldn’t lift. I was wiry. I was tough.
As I aged, I remember my mother being on and off diets. I won’t name them, but there were plenty of the usual suspects. The body size went up and down. There was a lot of stress that was abated through the reward of comforting food.
As changes in my family and my life started to happen, my own body size went up and down. My dad’s relatives picked at me. People can be so cruel to the children of divorce. “Not missing any meals, are ya?” came from a great uncle one Christmas. I didn’t have the words to fight back. The child of the first marriage is there at the invitation of the parent they’re usually trying to impress. I didn’t want to upset my father, so I took it in. I swallowed it. I heard it. Sometimes, I still hear it.
As an adult, the conversations that my mother and I have had until recently focused on various weight loss efforts. We get so far and stress takes us back a few steps. We pick at our tummies, sometimes our arms. But the body complaints are usually the same. We love each other. It’s okay to speak like this.
But it’s not.
The newest film from the Dove Self-Esteem Project is called “Dove:Legacy” and it brings to light that not only are the body images of young girls are learned from the people we love. We learn that constantly picking at yourself and your body is socially acceptable behavior.
We learn it at home. From the people who love us the most who may struggle to love themselves enough.
But it’s never too late to start new habits. We can make lists of the things we love about ourselves. We can celebrate our bodies, we can learn to love those things that will never be Photoshop perfect. Most things won’t. We can let go. We can love.
I’m flying home next week, and the first thing I plan to do is curl up around my mother’s soft tummy. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have anyone in my family, and I don’t want to waste another minute picking ourselves apart. We’re beautiful, and it’s time the dialogue we have to and about ourselves can change.
We will change our legacy. You can change yours.
Enjoy the short clip, and if you want to get involved, click here.