This week, the airwaves have been flooded with Meghan Trainor’s public demand that her latest video must be taken down and replaced with the non-photoshopped version of herself. I think she’s absolutely fantastic. While I don’t know her at all, I suspect she is really saying, ‘Hey, that’s not me! What are you doing, creating — fabricating an image of me that is a LIE!’ She is also demonstrating, for her family, her loved-ones, and really the world of women, ‘Love yourself. Be proud of who you are the way you are.’
Since college I have not been confident about my “non-perfect” body. Regardless of the fact that my husband thinks I’m beautiful, and he always encourages me to to love myself–like he does, I am still troubled every minute, every hour, every day. All of this talk about Meghan’s video reminds me to keep trying to stop that. That it’s really important to love who you are and to model that for your children.
It also reminds me of last year when we went on a family vacation to Florida to visit my mother-in-law. At first, I was feeling very self-conscious, as I often do about being on the beach and how I felt (and often still do feel) about my body. I remember when we got to the beach, a feeling of “I just don’t care anymore” took over. Somehow, for a few hours that day, I was not self-doubting, worrying, and honestly trying to hide myself. I was free! I was released from anxiety! I had such a wonderful time that day. My son and husband don’t let anything hold them back and have a lot of fun. That day, so did I! We had a blast on the beach, and in the water, splashing, running, swimming, digging for beach animals like little crabs, and chasing the little schools of micro-fish that swim where the water meets the sand. While I don’t know how, why and where the sense of mental freedom came from that day, I did make the conscious choice to grab onto it with all that I had, and embrace it fully!
I felt so good about my choice to be present and enjoy myself that day that I wanted to share how happy I was about it. I wrote a comment, uploaded the photo, and almost immediately had an anxiety attack as it posted to FaceBook. I started to think about what people might think. Again.
My personal Facebook post from May 19, 2015:
“Last week we were on vacation in Florida and I did what I thought I would never have the guts to do. I took off my coverup. I played in the sand with my three year old. I swam. I played in the waves. I enjoyed every single moment with my family. I didn’t not sit on the sidelines for any of it. I didn’t watch from my beach chair. I did not care one bit about what anyone’s judgement might be, because you know what? It doesn’t matter. Not. One. Bit. What matters are the amazing memories I made with my son and my husband. Enjoy every moment. Don’t sit back because you’re worried about what others might think. You’ll miss way too much that way. Xoxo”.
It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. People were cheering me on. They were encouraging me. They were “liking” the photo. It felt good. It was positive. I put myself out there, in a swimsuit, on the internet because I wanted to encourage other moms to be fully present without worrying about the judgement of others.
Loving yourself is the most important gift you can give your child. No, that’s not it. Loving yourself is the most important gift you can give yourself. And your children watch you every minute of your life, and they learn everything you do, say, and feel. As best you can, don’t embrace and welcome the fears of what other people may or may not think of you, your body, your beliefs, whatever it may be. Why embrace something negative? Be fully present in your life. Let your child see the wonderful, fun, amazing person that you are. It really does go too fast, and you don’t want to miss any of it.
xoxo – Joyfully Mom