Thursday, June 25, 2015

A lesson in pride: Body Edition

Before I had children, I said to myself, "I'll never have kids." When I met my husband, somehow this guy convinced me that I wanted children but I said, "I don't want any girls. Nope. None!" This was a mantra I kept, even when I became pregnant with my first born. You can imagine now, how thrilled I was when I found out I was having a boy.

Try and understand. No expensive clothes. No trying to do ethnic hair! No feminine cycle craziness! Did I mention that no doing ethnic hair?

Man, was I stoked. So you can imagine, 4 1/2 years later and suddenly having a daughter, how much changed for me. I wasn't too sad. I guess I kind of always knew, but something did happen. To me. And my way of looking at my body. Suddenly I had a daughter and I cared more about how I looked more than ever.

Somewhere I became lost in gender stereotypes and vanity. With each baby, my body was changed and I became a harsher critic of my looks. Suddenly, I complained more about my small rolls and stretch marks and I did it, in front of my daughter. Not realizing what burden I was putting upon her young shoulders.

Here I was, telling her she was beautiful just the way she was only to have her hear me say how fat and disgusting I was. A confusion for sure. She looks at me, her mother, to be her lesson in pride. Pride in herself, inside and out. I was letting her down.

This was a big deal. Why, you ask? It's hard enough when the world gives girls (and boys) a body image that may be unattainable due to genetics and lack of plastic surgery resources, but when your child is transgender or on the gender spectrum, there is already that awareness they aren't like a cisgender* person.

Constant criticism of a parent's body, the person who they model most of their behaviors from, get their life lessons from, can ultimately increase the risk of severe body dysphoria. So what can I do about it? What can we, parents, do about making sure we make the lesson in pride a positive one for our offspring?

Make a vow.  As hard as it may be, because we know the bombarding images and views on what's hot and what's not can't be quelled outside our lives, but make that vow to say no to damaging ideologies and love your body. Love your heart, your soul. Love YOU.

See that sign? No more. Love yourself. Have pride in YOU. Our children are watching us with their little eyes. Capturing everything even though we don't think they are. I'm doing this more now. I'm a beautiful person and so is my daughter.

Inside and out.

*cisgender=denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.

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