Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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What I Want My Daughter To Know About Body Image

I flew into Colorado last night, a little tired from wrestling with an active six month old. My early Christmas present from Delta was a message that my luggage had not made it with me to the airport {oh, joy!}.

I called the couple who had generously offered to house us and explained our situation. We would be a little later getting in because I needed to find somewhere to buy baby cereal, formula, diapers, and all the other essentials that were lost somewhere in Salt Lake City.

In an effort to sound normal and down-to-earth, I asked where the nearest Wal-Mart was located.

I clearly forgot that I was in Colorado. I was directed to the nearest Whole Foods instead.

The people here are absolutely incredible, hospitable, and inviting. They are also totally granola.

My breakfast consisted of apple-cranberry-pecan organic muffins {with decaf coffee}. Lunch was vegetarian, and our afternoon snack was biscotti and hot tea.

There were people running outside. In the snow.

Where I come from, the only reason you run in the snow is if a big wild animal is chasing you.

I truly find the vitamin/essential oil/organic lifestyle very charming. But if I’m honest, all I wanted today was a venti quad latte from Starbucks to knock out my caffeine-deprivation-induced headache.

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I prepared for bed tonight and the same nagging thoughts crept back into my mind.

You’re not thin enough.

Those pants aren’t loose enough.

Your hair needs a touch-up.

Your skin is too dry.

The problem with today wasn’t with the healthy food I was served or the active people I was around. Those things are great. The problem with today was how I felt when I looked at myself in the mirror.

The problem was with my body image.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been the bigger girl. I outgrew my mom’s shoes in the 5th grade. I couldn’t share clothes with my friends because they just didn’t fit. I dreaded the scales at the doctor’s office every. single. time.

I refuse to wear shorts because my legs are shaped weird. Sometimes I cover my big toenail with a band-aid so that people won’t notice how ugly it grew back {I lost it twice}. I change clothes at least three times each morning before I leave the house.

I’ve made comments about dyeing my hair, painting my nails, or buying new clothes just to keep up with my sisters. I joke about how my hips don’t lie and how I shouldn’t be wearing skinny jeans.

I just want to be done with all of this. It’s not my sisters’ fault that I have body image issues. And I don’t really think anybody cares how my big toenail looks.

The last thing I want is for my daughter to hear me make excuses for my own lack of self-esteem.

It breaks my heart that I prayed for God to grant her with a tall, slender body and high metabolism.

Ugh. I actually prayed that.

I didn’t want her to grow up and struggle with the same issues I have. But if my daughter doesn’t dream about fitting into a size two pair of jeans, she’s going to dream about something else.

She’ll dream about having clearer skin. Or a fuller bra size. Or straighter hair. Or curlier hair. Or in the middle-er hair.

We are women, and we’re our own worst critics.

I want desperately for my daughter to know that every woman struggles with body image. Satan can find something in each of us that kills our confidence about the way we look.

But most importantly, I want my daughter to know that overcompensating for her insecurities will never fill the hole that God can fill Himself.

To my beautiful, precious daughter:

Whatever it is that dampens your spirit when you look into the mirror, please know this: God is bigger.

If you want to eat healthy, don’t do it because you want to see a lower number on a scale. Do it because you want God to have power over food in your life.

If you want to live an active lifestyle, don’t do it because you like how you look in tighter clothes. Do it because God can use a healthy person to serve in the Kingdom.

If you want to dye your hair or do your nails, don’t do it because you want others to notice you. Do it because…well, I don’t have a good reason to do it. {Let’s just pamper ourselves together once in a while for fun, ok?}

Whatever you do, don’t let your looks become your idol. There will always be someone skinnier, healthier, and prettier than how you feel. But those same women have their own set of insecurities. And they also have the need to let God fill their holes, too.

My beautiful daughter, how you see yourself in the mirror is a reflection of the confidence you draw from the Creator who made you, fearfully and wonderfully.

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How do you talk to your daughters about body image? What are good ways to build our daughters’ confidence as they grow into young women? {Don’t worry…I won’t have this conversation for a while…I hope!}

Comments

comments

JenniferDecember 10, 2013 - 1:14 am

So far I don’t talk about bodies in any critical way. Not mine. Not theirs. We talk about our strong muscles or how fast we can run and we thank God for that.
London’s six and we haven’t had one talk about the shape of my body or the shape of hers. Praise God.
I suspect culture will invade soon enough and we’ll need to figure it out. But for now, I think my silence has been good for all of us.

Tammy ClaytonDecember 10, 2013 - 6:47 am

Simply…thank you, Lauren.

SarahDecember 10, 2013 - 8:17 am

I think these thoughts so often. I am so scared that one day I will make some devistating mistake with my children and they will forever be discontent with their bodies. I play through, in my head, what questions they might ask about the various, vane things I do to make myself feel better about not being perfect, or the worldly things I busy myself with because I can’t come to terms with how to “be enough”. It feels good to not be alone in that battle, but not being alone isn’t the same as trying to overcome. Thank you for these words and your honest heart. I have even longer than you before these conversations happen, at least with my own children, but it gives me hope knowing that others are preemptively fighting the battle. Maybe there is a way to get it right. :) love you

AMBERDecember 10, 2013 - 9:33 am

You are and have always been beautiful!!

MarciaDecember 10, 2013 - 11:49 am

Beautifully said!

ShawnaDecember 10, 2013 - 3:44 pm

You are an amazing mother. Thank you for writing such an inspiring blog.

StefanieDecember 10, 2013 - 4:08 pm

This made me cry reading it. I’ve always had all the same thoughts. You are a truly inspiring person.

Lyndsee BurlesonDecember 10, 2013 - 4:36 pm

I’ve always had the worst time with body image. I’m 6’1″ and weight over 200 lbs. my husband is shorter than me and when we first got married I got rid of all my heels for the sake of not embarrassing him. (he never once cared). I prefer my hair short while other girls looks more lady like with it long. I don’t feel comfortable in shorts, and I hate the way my legs stick to chairs any how. I wear size 11 shoes and that’s stretching. I will never not have a belly. but in my life, I can honestly say I have never felt more beautiful than when my daughter tells me so. my own mother thinks I have things that need changing and that my husband isn’t doing me any favors telling me I’m beautiful every day, but my sweet 3 year old compliments my outfits and jewelry and hair and nails. I know that these things don’t even matter. it’s the smile I wear and the love I bring. but it’s so hard to remember. but I know that I will never tell lily she is anything but perfect, we will not discuss diets, and if anyone tells her she’s too skinny I’ll punch them. cause she is how God wanted her to be, and that’s a lesson to me.

Patsy MooreDecember 10, 2013 - 6:34 pm

Lauren, you have always been a beautiful girl inside and out. You are exactly right! Regardless of how we look or what we have, we will want something else. Physical appearance can be changed; however, a person’s true beauty comes from within them. Your daughter and your future children have a great Mom!

Misti GrayDecember 10, 2013 - 7:09 pm

Wow. Perspective is a strange thing. Yours is the body image I wanted to have–the epitome of feminity with your curves and grace, height and hair. We all struggle with something, you are exactly right. This small insight has made me think twice about the body image I portray to my girls. Thank you for sharing.

SusanDecember 10, 2013 - 7:30 pm

Lauren, you are the coolest. I have always admired you, and I just wanted to say thanks for this! You have one lucky daughter! :)

MistyDecember 10, 2013 - 11:15 pm

Thank you for such wonderful and inspiring thoughts!

Kimberly WasherDecember 11, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Great day in the morning. You amaze me every time I read something you write. Looking at you and knowing you I would never know that you struggle with these things. I love your honesty and transparency! I honestly haven’t even thought about the body image conversation that I will probably have to have one day, but hopefully all of us girl mommies can provide advice to each other. Keep writing…you’re sooo good!!

michelle.goodman1963@gmail.comDecember 11, 2013 - 9:35 pm

Boy! Im so proud of you Lauren. I love being able to call you my niece, you are truly pleasing to God. But I must say, from the day you were born you have just gotten more beautiful with each passing year. You have a precious soul. I love who you are! I know that God has great things prepared for you and the wonderful family that with Gods help you are creating. I want you to know that you glow with beauty my dear from the inside out.

I love you dearly,thanks so much for sharing this. I would have never known you struggled with such issues. You hide it well.

Aunt Michelle :)

Jane MulderDecember 11, 2013 - 10:03 pm

Thank you Lauren.

Heather BolesJanuary 9, 2014 - 9:49 pm

This is exactly what id love for my daughter to know