It happened. Already. She’s only 4. We are cuddling before her bedtime and she’s resting her head on my belly.
It’s a beautiful moment when things start to get quiet. We usually tell stories, make jokes and faces along with lots of hugs and kisses before she dozes off to sleep for the night. Truthfully it’s one of my most precious moments with her.
This particular night threw me for a loop. Here is part of our conversation.
‘Mommy…’ she giggles. ‘You’re belly is like mushy potatoes!’
Me: My belly is like what?!
Her: Mushy potatoes. Don’t you know it should be hard and flat?
Me: That’s impossible. Every body is meant to be soft. Our bodies are meant to move and bend. If not we would be statues. Don’t you want mommy to move so I can play with you easily?
Her: Well yes. But don’t you want to have abs?
Me: I do have abs. Everyone does but everybody’s body looks different. I want to be strong and happy. I want to live a long long time so I can see you grow. I love fitness because I can celebrate my body not because I want to keep changing it. Does that make sense?
Her: Yes, mommy. I want to be strong too.
Honestly part of me was hurt because I do work hard to demonstrate a healthy balanced approach to self-care through:
– nutrition that includes all foods (and I mean all from asparagus to chocolate)
– activity I love and that challenges by mental and physical boundaries
– appreciation for what my body can do instead of just how it looks
– verbal affirmations of my self-worth as well as hers. Check out our video!
While she’s extremely smart and we live in an active household, I’m very conscious of my words, attitude and reactions to her, the media and myself.
Truth be told. I’d love to have abs. A good part of the year I do have abs but I do not live and die by my body fat percentage.
I embrace every stage of my nutrition because there are times I’m working on strength and there’s times I’m working on rehab of an injury and there’s times I want to look my best. All of which requires different strategies and levels of acceptance for how I look. I have an athlete’s mindset after all.
Not to mention just because I have abs doesn’t mean my body is any less squishy when I bend over to pick her up or move any less when I chase her in the park. I’m a human and I bend and move – just as I should.
My daughter doesn’t love me less because my body fat percentage is low. She loves me more because I love myself. She can feel that energy. She knows that my arms are a safe place. She knows my words are with best intention. She knows my actions are filled with love. That is what matters, not my body fat percentage.
Can I just remind you that my daughter is 4. I really thought I had a few more years before this conversation reared it’s nasty head. I just wasn’t prepared but did the best I knew how to reinforce a healthy body image.
Luckily I have spent years working on improving my own self-acceptance, loving what is and establishing a healthy view of my physical form and didn’t feel as crushed by her comments.
If this is an area you struggle then I’ve created something just for you. Here is a free download walking you through my favourite home practice. Not only will you build a better self-image but for parents out there you can help your children do the same.