When I was a ten-year old girl, I rarely thought about my body. My only real concern was that my body was good enough to win swim meets, strong enough to stay atop my horse and fast enough to kick the boys’ butts at races on the playground. Of course, I noticed that I didn’t look like adult women and wondered a little about what I could expect but that is as far as it went.
In contrast, I have noticed that my ten-year old daughter and her friends are constantly discussing body types, assessing their status and questioning their beauty. This began somewhere around the entrance to kindergarten and has only increased. Since my daughter’s birth I have always known that body issues would be a discussion that we would need to have, but I never expected to be dealing with it at the age of five.
We have an awesome relationship – so open and honest – but I often struggle with what to say, how to express to her how beautiful she is. How beauty is something you discover. How beauty is something you cultivate. How beauty is something you claim for yourself. Recently, I found the words I had been searching for on one of my favorite blogs www.cjanekendrick.com. (I have included the quote below but click-through to read many more well-crafted posts.)
If you are the mother to a daughter…or just a daughter yourself…I encourage you to read and share. I’m considering painting this on my daughter’s wall, or playing a recording of me reading it while she sleeps, or tattooing it on her arm. How are all you other mothers out there addressing this in your homes?
Your body houses a spirit.
The spirit changes constantly with intelligence and progression.
Your body will change with your spirit, constantly.
On days where you will feel heavy, emotionally, so will your body.
On days where you feel energetic, emotionally, so will your body.
Your body will change like the earth changes, and if you are quiet you will feel the earth’s changes in your own body. And like the earth, your body is cyclic. This system of cycles is very important for your body and spirit, it will pull out dark, deep-seated emotions that might hurt you –even if you’re not conscious of them– and flush them out, literally out of your body and out of your mind.
This cycle that will occur in your body is Grace.
Allow yourself to be cyclic. And feel cyclic.
You will be tempted to coerce your body into staying the same. You might hear about unhealthy perimeters to keep your body within; numbers and measurements. You might feel a need to restore your body to a certain age where you think your body belongs–even though you would never will your spirit backwards to that same place. You will hear lies that unless your body stays the same you are not good enough.
These are the worst lies ever told since the beginning of time. The worst lies always involve a woman’s body. They always involve a woman’s body and her inabilities. And these lies, they’ve hurt a lot of people. You don’t have to believe them. In fact, you can believe more than the sum of all these lies.
Your body is not about what you have too much of. Your body is not about what you wish you had more of. Your body isn’t even about an appearance, it’s more intelligent than that. It’s about truth; the physical manifestation of what you know inside.
It’s not about what days you will take it to the gym. It’s not about what you foods you will refuse it. It’s not about how you can pluck it, paint it, or shape it with plastic. It’s about how you feel about its worth–and your spirit’s worth–and those sentiments will be your guide on how you treat it.
Your body has been changing since the day you were born, let it continue to change. Let it fatten, let it thin, let it bloom, let it blossom, let it shrink, let it wrinkle, let it die.
And celebrate it all.
“Pretty is something you’re born with. But beautiful, that’s an equal opportunity adjective.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson