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I’m Beautiful?

We are born beautiful and precious.  We are amazed with our bodies, our fingers, toes and belly buttons.  We learn how to use our hands and feet.  We have sight, hearing and taste.  We learn about our teeth and our hair.  Our body is a beautiful amazing machine.  I often wonder, when did all of this change?  When did you stop believing how beautiful and unique you are?  When did the self-love and self-care stop?  Why did it end?  When someone tells you that you are beautiful, what do you do?  Do you smile and say Thank you?  Do you roll your eyes and say “Whatever?”  How can you be beautiful when the world tells you that you are not?  Everywhere you look, society is wanting you to change.  Lose weight, change your hair, more makeup, more muscles, less fat, bulk up and another diet.  When did you start to believe you are anything but beautiful? I’m ashamed and it’s hard for me to admit, but I am a mom who taught my daughter how to hate her body.  Since a little girl, all she ever heard me say about my body was negative.  Expressions of hatred towards my weight, my stomach and my flabby arms.  The cellulite on my legs and not liking my butt.  The dark circles and double chin.  My hair was never pretty enough and I hated how my hyperthyroidism made my eyes bulge.  My teeth were crooked and my torso wasn’t long enough.  Wrinkles and puffy eyes, too.  No matter what my weight was, I was never happy.  I was full of flaws.  The mirror was my enemy, or should I say, I was my own enemy.  There were times that my daughter told me that I looked beautiful and my response was “whatever” as I shushed her out of the room.  Never once did I ever say “Thank you” or believed what she said.  Why couldn’t I be pretty like my friends or the celebrities in magazines?  At times I felt sorry for my husband because he had to look at this imperfect woman.  It wasn’t long after that I began to see a pattern in my daughter.  She began to hate her body.  Her stomach wasn’t tight enough, arms weren’t muscular enough, eyebrows were too thick, unhappy with breast size, calves were too big, nails were too short, etc.  “Mom, do I have cankles?”  I would tell her how beautiful she is and she’d roll her eyes and run off crying.  “What is wrong with you?” I’d ask her.  “I hate everything about my body!”  I could not understand why she felt this way.  She is so beautiful.  Damn you society! As I sat with her and talked about the importance of self-care, self-love and body acceptance, I began to listen to myself.  How could I expect her to listen to me when my actions said something different?  I was heartbroken with the realization that I was responsible for my daughter’s poor body image.  No, society does not help but I could not blame them.  I should have provided my daughter a safe place to learn about inner and outer beauty and I failed to do so.  “What kind of mother am I?”, I thought through the tears.  Enough self-pity.  I made plans to how things were going to be different in our home.  As hard as it was, and I mean HARD, I began to compliment myself.  “I feel good today,” “I look pretty today,” “My makeup looks great!”, “I love the way I look in this dress.”  Daily affirmations that I spoke out loud.  I let my daughter hear me speak these.  There were days that I did not feel like doing them but I did it anyway.  I would ask her, “How do I look?!  Instead of, “Does this make me look fat?”  She would say, “Mom, you look great!”  I’d give her a big hug and say “I feel great!”  After months of this, I began to believe it myself.  My affirmations grew and I found myself dancing in front of the mirror with affirmations of “I AM BEAUTIFUL!”  Through self-care and self-love, I came out on the other side.  Wouldn’t you know it, my daughter began to affirm herself, too.  Today, she loves herself!  We celebrate our bodies together.  We celebrate her strong calves, her pretty shoulders and her butt. (Yes, she loves her butt!)  Even when we are in sweatpants, no makeup and our hair pulled up, we can laugh and still find amazing things about ourselves.  We don’t focus on our flaws.  We celebrate and are thankful for the bodies we have. I’ve watched my daughter affirm her friends and pass on the message of self-love and acceptance.  Today, in schools, kids are struggling.  They are self-harming, acting out in eating disorders and have poor body image.  They need our help.  Imagine what would happen if we made a change at home?  A change that would need to start with us.  It’s not too late.  We need to show our children how to self-love.  It is an amazing feeling to experience.) Let’s make a change.  Our future needs it!  Remember, change starts with us. In case someone hasn’t told you lately, I think you’re beautiful. To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance. ~ Oscar Wilde

About the author

Shannon Hershkowitz

Alumni Recovery Coach, Rosewood Centers For Eating Disorders

Web Site: /alumni-program/

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