‘I love myself enough to be able to take the piss out of myself.’
It’s no secret that a child’s largest influence on all things life is their mother. And when it comes to a daughter’s body image, their mama is probably the most important person for the job; so it should be no surprise that this is where the story of me, myself and my body begins.
An influence as important as this can’t be faked. One day, your child will see straight through your words if you are saying them just because you know that’s what you should be saying.
It comes from leading by example, from what they observe in day to day life. Seeing their mother love herself, respect herself and radiating a positive outlook on all things life, including body image.
That right there, what I described? That’s my mum. Lucky me right!
I, unfortunately have witnessed other mothers who aren’t as well-equipped when it comes to a positive influence on their daughter’s body image, and it breaks my heart. This wasn’t just during school. To this day I still have friends who are well into their 20s and are suffering from the negativity that can be sometimes be thrown at them.
Its ok ladies, I’m happy to share my mum with anyone who needs her!
And everyone does need someone like her in their lives, because I can hands-down put how I view myself today, both in my physical body and realizing how awesome I am, down to my mum.
There’s a few of Mamas words that have stuck by me through to adulthood that have influenced this positive view:
‘Everything in moderation.’
This can be used for every damn thing. In the sense of food, I grew up not seeing junk food as a ‘treat’ like a lot of my school friends did. I could eat it whenever I pleased, yet that doesn’t mean that I did. I loved coke. I may still have a coke addiction but whatever, shhh!!
But in the words of Annie, everything in moderation. All that ‘junk food’ was always balanced out with a well-rounded diet of veggies.
This doesn’t mean a good food binge never occurred, because if you like something, eat it. It’s not a big deal.
The way food wasn’t discussed as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ provided me with a healthy relationship with food. It wasn’t until my last years in high school of hearing friends discuss food and ‘diets’ was it brought to my attention, and I wish it never was to be completely honest. Mum too had this same relationship with food.
I never once remember her using the word ‘diet’. I still don’t understand what calorie counting is and we are both still more than happy to pile our plate up with three times as much as we should be eating if it’s an amazing meal. She provided me with the knowledge of nutrition. Just as she provided me with good knowledge of everything else.
This little sentence was thrown at me over more than just food; exercise, alcohol, working, stressing. A balanced life is a healthy/ happy life. Too much of something can be just as toxic as too little of something.
Not only was my mum an educator when it came to food, she showed me that you don’t need to be doing a Cyndi Crawford exercise DVD, aerobics or going to gym classes to be active. We were always outside. Both mum and dad were always running around with us. If she wasn’t being active with us she was riding, she was walking, she was playing golf. (Come to think of it she isn’t really a team player is she? Wonder what impact that has had on me mum!).
But my all-time favourite life lesson, one that I REALLY hope to pass on to all children and any one surrounding me really; the one that has ALWAYS stuck with me. You have to be able to laugh at yourself.
I was quite the sensitive type, a sook really. So one thing I always heard from my mother (like, every.damn.day) was ‘you need to be able to laugh at yourself’.
It may have taken a while for it to actually sink in, but I think it helps you to realise when have gotten to that point of being happy with yourself.
One thing I have noticed with people who don’t know me very well, they think that when I talk about (laugh at) myself, I am putting myself down. But in fact it is the opposite. I love my self-enough to be able to laugh at myself (and my rat titties).
This probably goes in hand with something I have had to overcome. I haven’t had to accept something physical, or learn to love myself. That came naturally because of the awesome parenting I received.
What I have struggled with is the guilt I feel because I haven’t struggled. It’s the same as the guilt I get because I had an amazing natural birth with my daughter, or that I lost all my baby weight really easily.
I have in the past, felt ashamed to discuss it, because upon discussing the labour story or after baby body a lot of responses I get in return are lucky bitch, skinny bitch or something similar.
Remember that scene in Mean Girls when they are all discussing what they hate about themselves in the mirror…thighs, calves, pores, hair line blah blah blah
Well, I was Cady (and I actually do have really bad breath in the morning.).
As both a teenager and a young(er) adult I felt awkward and embarrassed because I DIDN’T feel the need to bring myself down. I started to second guess myself and then wonder if I was in fact up myself. (That’s not a question by the way, I don’t want your answer, haha)
Can someone love themselves too much (Yes. yes, they can. Because everything in moderation remember! P.s sarcasm doesn’t transfer well into text ha)
It’s only been recently that I have been confident enough to laugh at myself in the open. To discuss my ‘imperfections’ (there is nothing I can do about them so why not giggle about them instead) to realise that everyone is completely different, both inside and out, and with the way they see things and deal with things. I can put this last part down to yoga.
I travelled over to Thailand (all on my own – that’s a big deal to me) to undertake my 200-hour yoga teacher training a few years ago. I learnt way too much about so many different things, (myself mainly) that I can’t even begin to ramble about. There is one part though, that really resonated with me.
Yoga is not like any type of dance, like gymnastics or ballet where you have to create a perfect line or perform with accuracy every single time. Yoga doesn’t judge. There is no comparison.
I can remember Mum taking me out of ballet class as a child because they were trying to make my body turn in ways it doesn’t naturally turn (pigeon toes and internally rotating hips don’t go too well with ballet apparently).
Yoga taught me to love what I have. To work with what I have. To enjoy what I have. What I look like, embrace what I feel like. Work on what I want to achieve and to enjoy the journey of getting there.
I wish that I had come across yoga while I was at school. Not for the physical part of it, but for everything it taught me about acceptance.
I intend to pass on everything my mother taught me through her day to day ways, but I can’t wait to be able to pass on the knowledge of yoga to my daughter. And lord knows, she will need the calming component of yoga that’s for sure!