Sitting at the airport reading a friend’s beautiful book and minding my own business over my Cheddar Jack Cheeze-Its because I’m classy, I notice a group of three maybe 20-something girls take seats to my right, each with Chick-fil-A for their pre-flight meal.
Jealous, I thought, and kept reading.
As they passed out pieces of sandwiches to each other and disgustedly discarded the chips and pickles as if only peasants would dare partake, one commented, “I never ever eat sandwiches and my mom basically never eats.”
I assumed in the moment of silence that followed that the other girls would chime in with “why?” Or “that’s weird”. But instead it was a resounding clap of agreement.
“My mom eats like a bird.”
“Mine NEVER eats in public.”
“Maybe she eats while she is cooking dinner and that’s why she never eats anything but kale with us,” the last girl wondered out loud.
One by one, I watched as these young women shared their observations and then, one at a time, each came up with a reason to throw their bit of fried chicken sandwich into the trash bag.
“When my sister and I get fresh fruit, she dips hers in Nutella and peanut butter.”
“I’d die!” another lamented.
“Oh yeah. I only ever order the salad or power bowl and never with dressing.”
Mamas. This has to stop. Like, yesterday.
I am fully aware that this message is coming from a sizeable mama who just openly admitted to happily snacking on Cheeze-Its in the airport, but it’ll be over my plus-sized dead body that my daughter thinks this body or any shaped body runs on kale and dressing-less salad alone.
Friends. This is total insanity.
We are living in a world where body positivity is FINALLY pushing its way into mainstream vocabulary and yet we are still finding reasons to shame ourselves, degrade our bodies, and consequently distort our daughters’ view of true beauty.
I’m willing to bet none of the mothers of those college girls in the airport would know their daughters have ever had a second thought to how their mama eats. They probably assume their girls are blissfully unaware of the flaws you see when you look at the 40-something body now staring back at you in the fitting room, or how pointing out those imperfections might leave a less than flattering impact on their daughters and the way they view themselves.
Mamas, our kids don’t even hear half of what we say most of the time, but they are ALWAYS watching. They soak in how we see ourselves, how we treat our own bodies, and how forgiving—or lack thereof—we are toward ourselves.
Despite our best intentions to pour on the praise and constantly tell our daughters how beautiful and perfect we think they are, they will learn to see themselves through the lens you are creating for them.
Similarly, your sons and mine will learn the type of women they will want to look for one day and how to treat those woman from how they see us interact with ourselves and our partners. I want my son to see he is being raised by a mama who answers his questions about my body with a smile because it is not something about which I am ashamed, and who is married to a super hot dad who still tells me how beautiful I am no matter the size of my pants.
When weighing ourselves in our bathroom, my 7-year-old boy leaps with excitement that his muscles have grown to a whopping 47 pounds and while everything in me screams to make a joke, “Yeah you and my arm!” I don’t. Because those types of passive aggressive self-deprecating comments will soak in.
Instead, he says with pride, “Mama you are over 300 pounds!”
“Yep. I sure am, my strong boy!” I smile back.
And I write about that fact and tell my friends because that number no more defines me than the color of my skin, the texture of my messy mom bun, or the fact that I think cheese is the world’s greatest food and I’ll fight you if you disagree.
It’s a number. That’s it.
This body, all 300+ pounds of it, brought life into the world . . . TWICE! It has overcome illness and helped care for those it loves. It has offered help to friends and rocked babies, remodeled houses and served on the mission field.
Yeah, it’s obvious mine is a body who prefers queso to kale but that’s because queso is freaking delicious and I know not to eat it everyday. I don’t make excuses for my body. I eat consciously and am mindful to move my body and use it’s strength.
So when my daughter sees me dress for my day and asks about my squishy tummy, I remind her that she used to live in there and that is pretty incredible. I eat salads and I eat tacos and neither make me more or less of a woman, a mother, or a person.
My kids will grow up knowing that every woman—regardless of size, race, religion, or any other social identifier—deserves to feel beautiful because that is how we were created: to love and be loved.
So, to those young women waiting to fly to Denver with me and every other child, daughter, woman, and mama—I raise my fork. It is carrying macaroni and it’s about to be delicious.
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