I gained a lot of weight when I was pregnant the first time. The weight gain continued after I had the baby, too. I stopped nursing but kept eating like I was feeding two. The first several years of my life as a mom were spent being embarrassed by how I looked and feeling too ashamed to pose for pictures with my kids. A year or two ago, I made myself stop acting ashamed and started making a conscious effort to get in more pictures with my kids. Some day I’ll be gone, and pictures are all they’ll have.
I’m not saying that I’m happy with how I look, but I’m trying to overcome the hang ups and focus on seeing myself how my kids do. They think I am the most beautiful woman in the world–they’ve told me so on multiple occasions! The moment I realized that we hadn’t had family pictures taken in over four years was the moment I made myself a promise to do better.
Where it began
I started to look deeper into where some of my hang ups and issues with my body come from. I began to remember things my mom used to say to me or around me when I was a kid. My mom was never one to fat shame anyone or to judge anyone for how they looked…anyone except herself that is. I can remember hearing her talk about the latest fad diet that she was on, and how she needed to lose weight because she was fat. I don’t ever remember thinking that my mom was fat though.
My mom told me several stories of growing up and being told that she was fat her entire life. When I was a young girl, I can vividly remember my grandmother telling me that I was fat. It’s amazing how those things stick with me all these years later.
I’m not alone
Twice in one week, I’ve had conversations with friends about things our parents said to us or around us growing up. One of my friends told me that her mom used to always tell her to suck in her stomach. My other friend (I’ll call her M to simplify the story) told me that she can still vividly remember her mom being really upset after M came home from a visit to her grandparents’ house because M had gained so much weight. She was 6 or 7 years old at the time.
M also told me about the mean things her dad used to say about overweight people. I can remember an uncle of mine who would comment on the size of just about anyone who walked by. These things weren’t directed at us, but they planted seeds of what a person “should” look like and those seeds grew into major insecurities.
The things we say to kids or around our kids matter. Words can leave a lasting impact. Our kids are always listening. Everything we say is being absorbed by their little sponge brains. I don’t think that any of the moms in these stories meant to hurt their children. They couldn’t have intended to create body issues and a lack of self-esteem. I don’t think my uncle meant to cause me to judge myself as harshly as he judged others. I just think that it’s time we become more cognizant of the things we say and do around our kids. And it’s time to get out from behind the camera and get in those pictures, too! As my dear friend, “M” said, “I hope we’re raising a new generation of kids who don’t hate their bodies!”