By Chanda Alicea
I recently came across this quote while I was down the rabbit hole that is Google while searching for something else. It struck a chord so deep in my soul because it’s the gospel truth. Now obviously I can’t speak on what kind of things are important to keep in mind when raising boys, because I don’t know. So, keep in mind that this post isn’t just about making sure we raise our daughters to have a healthy sense of self and ensure that they maintain a self-loving body positive mindset no matter what.
This post is also a reminder to every single woman out there. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother, you are somebody’s something. You’re an aunt, a sister, a wife/partner, a best friend, a role model, an inspiration and a light. Someone is ALWAYS watching you. And fellas, this is some insight you’ll want to know too…we women are our harshest critics. There is no one (not even society) who will be harder on us than ourselves.
Keeping that in mind, you might find yourself wondering “Is my kid watching me enough to change how I feel and think about myself?” Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that for me it did. As strange as it sounds, it was like a switch that I just flipped on once I realized my daughter was at an age where she was becoming aware of how I treated and spoke about myself. This was no easy feat mind you, because truthfully, I hated myself.
Now before I go on, I want to give a little context of where those feelings come from. I have been fighting a battle of obesity since I was a teenager, and I have NEVER EVER been comfortable in my own skin. I’m on a weight loss journey now (I’ll cover that in a different post), and I’m going to be 1000% honest when I tell you that reaching a point where I am confident and comfortable in my own skin along with really embracing myself is something that has only happened within the last year or so.
Now if you’re doing the math and read my first post where I mentioned that my daughter’s 7, and say I have been really mindful about keeping a body positive, self-loving mindset since my daughter was around 3, that equates to me faking the self-love for 4 YEARS!! Now let’s subtract the last year of feeling comfortable with where I am at on my journey, that’s still 3 years of falsely radiating that shit EVERY SINGLE EVER LOVING DAY. I faked it so hard despite how I felt because kids aren’t dumb y’all, and the last thing I need is for her to think she should feel so negatively about herself.
I’m getting ready to repeat myself, but I really want the point to sink in..3 years of pretending to love myself when I didn’t. 3 years of telling myself I am okay the way I am when I didn’t believe a word of it. 3 years of pretending that I wasn’t disgusted by how much I weighed and what I looked like. 3 years of hiding the disdain I felt and the tears I would cry about how I looked in my clothes. 3 years of hiding my body in pictures because I was ashamed of how I looked. 3 years of fake smiles because I didn’t want to not document my daughter’s life as she grows up. 3 painstakingly long, miserable, hard, painful and tearful years where I fooled no one, because you can see how unhappy I was behind my smile.
But for all the terribly negative and awful thoughts I had about myself, there has been one single constant throughout this time that has kept me afloat…unconditional love. Here’s the thing about kids (if you are parents, you already know) their love can heal you. You don’t expect it, but it’s true. You fall in love in such a different way the second you become a parent, that so many things about you change. The love of a child is so pure and unconditional that it can change how you think about yourself.
I can’t begin to imagine how I look through my daughter’s eyes. I can’t put into words how lucky I am that she loves me the way she does. She fills my heart and I hope that I continue to never take for granted or squander the things that her love has done for me. Quite simply, she makes me want to be the best version of myself that I can be for both of us. And if loving myself is the price I have to pay for making sure that she grows up learning to love and accept herself, then I’ll pay it. Honestly, we should all be willing to pay that price. Loving ourselves is easier said than done, but it is so worth it.
I hope if nothing else, you finish reading this and remember that someone is watching your actions and listening to your words, so choose them wisely. Someone is paying attention to how you treat yourself. Someone loves you in such a pure and unconditional manner, that it’s downright poetic. Someone loves you far more than you love yourself. Someone is taking cues from you on how to love themselves. Someone is learning how to love others by watching you do it. Keeping all this in mind, make sure you’re delivering the most positive message you can. Radiate the self-love and acceptance so brightly that you have no option but to believe the positivity your spreading about yourself no matter how much time that takes.