Tackling body image with my 9-year-old daughter

May 9, 2019

The other day I took my girls with me to Target to window shop and of course, in typical Target fashion, I left with more than I intended to as well as a stomach full of a sweet caramel coffee concoction.

I ended up purchasing a couple of bras and a few pairs of underwear, which is out of the norm for me. I typically lean toward a $9.99 pack of cotton briefs from Walmart and bra from the clearance section that may or may not be my size and make it last a long as humanly possible. I’m just being honest here. I know I can’t be the only one. This time, I decided to treat myself and get some of the colorful, frilly stuff that makes you feel sexy in all the right places even though these places won’t be seeing the light of day for a while. (Hashtag single mama).

Aniyah hanging from monkey bars in a blue dress

When I got home, I decided to try on my new gear, which also leads me to realize that I’m officially an adult now to be that excited about new underwear among other things like electric toothbrushes. My youngest fell asleep after her bath, but my oldest was still up and wanted to hang out in my room.

For most of their lives, it’s been just the three of us, so I’ve always dressed in front of them with no shame. As I went in and out of the closet to try on each piece as if it was a low budget fashion show, I voiced how each made me feel and what I loved most about my body. I often speak to my girls openly about body image and loving ourselves both internally and externally.

I allowed myself to be vulnerable

Aniyah asked about my stretch marks and where they come from. I explained how I believe they’re my badge of honor for becoming her mother. I told her how my body stretched as God formed her in my womb and I was left with my “tiger stripes” as evidence of the most amazing experience that led to my initiation into motherhood. I told her how much I loved my thick thighs and how they’d always been that way even at her age. I even did a little shimmy to show her how they jiggle. She laughed and jiggled hers too.

The short conversation left a big impact

After pointing out my flaws and explaining how I love them anyway, I told Aniyah just how beautiful I believe she is and that we are a lot alike in so many ways. She ended the conversation by telling me that she loves her body just the way it is and that she loves her thighs too. I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear and held her so tight. She didn’t realize it, but that short conversation we had while I stood in front of a mirror in my underwear exposing my love handles and stretch marks was one of the most powerful conversations we’ve ever had.

I didn’t want history to repeat itself

I suffered from issues with body image my entire life until recently. I covered up as much as I could and was ashamed for what I looked like. I wanted to look like the other girls I went to school with. I envied their thigh gap, flat stomachs, and skinny arms. I’ve always had a small waist, thick thighs, and arms that jiggled.

I remember going to the doctor at thirteen for a checkup and hearing my mother and the doctor whisper about my being overweight while I sat on the table holding back tears of frustration, embarrassment, and anger. I felt like I was built wrong and shamed for it. My stepfather would make jokes about my size and ask me if I was pregnant. My weight fluctuated from being overweight to being extremely small through my high school years.

I chose to break the cycle

It took a few years and a few wrong turns to learn to love myself just the way I am not reliant on the opinions of others. It also took me to go through these experiences to learn how to mother my children in areas that I’ve never experienced in my own childhood. Because of the hurt that I experienced at a young age and the lack of support and encouragement, I was able to give these things to my own daughter who doesn’t quite fit the mold according to society. I see myself in my little nine-year-old melanin beauty. I tell her that God just gave me more of her to love and that’s a fact.

2 Responses

  1. This is so beautiful, it made me cry. All young woman need to be able to share these experiences with their kids at young ages. I wish I shared more with mine. It’s the shame that keeps us hidden. I’m so glad you shared. Thank you. I love you!!!

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