An Epiphany for the New Year

A friend of mine texted me the link for Robyn Passante’s Washington Post article “8 things this mom will do to set a better example” this morning. In it, Passante vows to put herself in photos, writing:

When I look back on an archive of photos that document my kids’ growing up years, I want it to be apparent that I was there enjoying it with them, even when my hair was in a ponytail and I didn’t have lip gloss on. They do care about your appearance–but not your looks.

I immediately thought of how many pictures I have of my daughter and husband, and how few I have of Abigail and me or the three of us. The reason that popped into my head startled me: “Well, of course I have pictures of them. I love them.” Meaning, I don’t love myself–my outside form–and I don’t want to see myself in pictures.

I have a few favorite pictures of my daughter and me, but for the most part I avoid taking pictures and run from my mother-in-law’s many (MANY) photo albums as (tragically) they almost always lead to feelings of insecurity (Side note: Although, when I’m in my right mind, I can remember how even at my thinnest I would look at those albums and think about how I could lose more, so really it’s a losing game no matter what the scale (and pictures) say)).

As Passante discusses in her article, I am left contemplating what I am teaching my daughter. I hate how I feel about my body, and would do almost anything to keep her from feeling the same insecurities that I have grappled with throughout adulthood. When I refuse to step on the scale, or fret about what I can and cannot eat, or visibly dodge getting in photos with my family, I am teaching her that my shape–and others like it–are shameful. And I never (EVER!) want my daughter to feel shame.

So, one of of my New Year’s resolutions is to “get in the photo.” I want my daughter to know that we are meant to live and love at any size or shape. Moreover, when she is older, I want to be able to go through pictures with her and talk about how each stage of life presented new challenges and, more often than not, a new body to go with those challenges. I want her to know that your outer form will change, and that’s ok. At 31 years old, I don’t look like I did at 21 years old, and at 41, I won’t look like I do now. What if I chose to not only accept those changes, but to celebrate them? “See these curves? They came from sitting my butt in a chair and writing a dissertation in under one year. I earned these curves.”

So, in 2016 my goal is to teach my daughter and liberate myself through getting in the picture and fully celebrating each moment, because as I live my life I set an example for her.

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