I have been putting this off for a few days, mainly because I’m so self-conscious and afraid to put myself out there.
This is going to be all about my appearance, and even though I don’t want to write this, I feel I have to, and let me tell you why.
My husband, Doug, and I have three kids. Belle is 13, Torin is 11, and Faith brings up the rear at four. Over a month ago, I’m sitting in our van parked in the driveway, with Belle crying hysterically. She’s in seventh grade and playing softball for the freshman high school team, and she had just finished her very first scrimmage. (FYI, they got killed.)
Between each sob I heard, “My hands are too small,” “I don’t have any hips,” “My face has zits all over,” and “I’m too short.” Wait, what? I was so taken aback. Where did this negativity come from? When did she start disliking herself? And how did I miss this?
Seriously, Belle was always so confident. This was completely throwing me for a loop.
I remember sitting in stunned silence not knowing how to respond, and then things started pouring out of my mouth.
“You are beautiful.”
“You are smart.”
“You are not short—you are the perfect height.”
“Zits are part of puberty and will go away, I promise.”
“You look like me, and I look good.” OK, maybe humor wasn’t the best approach.
I was trying to refute every statement, but I know she wasn’t hearing it. Looking back, I probably should have just shut up and let her let it all out. But, I wanted to help her, to fix her, and she didn’t want to be helped; she wanted to be heard.
Parenting can be so hard.
She is struggling with self image, and, sadly, I really shouldn’t have been so surprised. Every day she hears things like, “If I start this new diet I will finally lose weight,” “Not wearing that; it makes me look fat,” “Ugh, my face looks horrible today.” And that’s just what’s coming out of my mouth. That’s not including what she sees on shows, YouTube, or social media. Am I setting up my daughter to have a poor self image of herself, because I have a poor self image of myself? Well, yes.
Oh, crap. Parenting fail. Self fail. Life fail.
My biggest issue is what I call the comparison disease. I compare myself to everyone about everything, from money to looks. And now, it seems, I’m passing this disease along to my daughter.
If I truly believe God created me (which I do), if I truly believe I’m created in God’s image (which I do), and if I truly believe he perfectly formed me in the womb (which I do), then every self-critical thing I say is like a slap in the face to God and a slap in the face to my daughter. People tell her she looks like me, but what am I doing to her self-esteem if the very person she looks like complains about her own looks every day?
A few weeks ago the whole family went shopping for Spring Break. Belle asked to go bathing suit shopping since she had grown out of hers from last year, and then out of her mouth came the most horrific request I have ever heard.
“Mom, you should get a bikini.”
WTH?! I did not say “heck” in my mind.
My response. “Um, no. I’m too fat to wear one.”
Belle’s response. “Mom, you have been working out and losing weight. Get one.”
My response. “True, but no. I have stretch marks from my thighs all the way to my neck, and no one needs to see those.”
Her response. “But that’s because you gave birth to us. Are you ashamed of that?”
And then I heard in my head: You have a chance to change your attitude about yourself and build confidence in your daughter. This is not about how you look—it’s about how you feel about yourself. Love the person I made you to be, and let Belle see it, too.
God, is this seriously from you? You want me to wear a two-piece bathing suit?
I’m not sure, but I think so, especially since it’s doing something that is completely taking me out of my comfort zone. Personally, nothing God has ever asked me to do has been easy, and it normally makes me want to throw up a little. God and I are working on this. Good thing He loves me. I’m in line to buy the suit with Doug (the hubby) and as we are checking out he says, “What are you doing? Don’t buy a bikini.”
Before you go off on my husband, his words were meant to protect me. He knows how self-conscious I am about my body. But he loves my body. Every curve, stretch mark, and roll. I’m truly a lucky girl.
I tell him why, and then he says, “You have to buy it.”
First day of Spring Break in Indian Shores, FL. It’s 80 degrees and sunny. Put on the two-piece, Kacie. NO! I don’t want to.
But I do it, and I walk out for everyone to see. Here I am. Look at the fat girl in a two-piece. And I found out no one is looking at me. No one is gawking and pointing at me. Do you know what is so crazy? I actually became more confident. I’m walking around the beach and thinking, “Yup, I’ve had three kids and still haven’t lost the baby weight, but I love myself and am proud of who I am.”
For two days I wore a two-piece bathing suit. (I could only do two days because I burnt my stomach so badly. That’s what happens when your stomach hasn’t seen the sun in 17 years. I promise I used sunscreen, but no amount would help my pale stomach.) As crazy as it sounds, I’m so grateful I wore a bikini.
Hi, my name is Kacie. I’m almost 40, I have an awesome husband and three beautiful kids, and I rocked a bikini. I will not say I’m fat, I’m ugly, or that I hate my body. But I will thank God every day for who I am.
First day on the beach, and here I am. No hiding, no feeling ashamed. Just being me.