Hearing the doctor say, “It’s a girl!” was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I get girls. I grew up in a family of all girls. I have 23 cousins on my dad’s side — 20 of whom are girls. Having a girl just seemed right to me and I was thrilled.
Fast forward a year, and I’m still thrilled to have a daughter. I love dressing her and controversial as it may be, I love the sweet little hair bows and the ridiculous little shoes. I’m comfortable with the intersection of feminism and girlie-girl-ness, and I believe that my daughter can be a strong woman who wears dresses. Or pants. Or giant hair bows.
Having a daughter also gives me pause, though. Particularly when it comes to bodies. Perhaps even more particularly when it comes to her body and my body. My daughter is gorgeous. Totally and completely perfect. I have no doubt that she will continue to be just as perfect as she gets older, and I want her to always feel exactly that way.
I look in the mirror at my post-baby body and my eyes immediately go to the part where my pants don’t fit the same (or perhaps even really at all) and the circles under my eyes (note to self: get eye cream) and the way my hair turns frizzy the second that the air gets humid each summer.
These aren’t the things I ever want my daughter to notice. I want her to look in the mirror and see the beautiful blue color of her eyes and the way her eyelashes seem to be never-ending. The way her cheeks are so smoochable, her belly button so adorable and her feet so precious, even if they are a combination of her father’s square shape with my weirdly long toes.
So how do I keep her from noticing the “bad” things and focused on noticing the good? I’m pretty sure it starts with me. This is a “do as I do” sort of thing, not just a “do as I say.” If I want her to notice the great things about herself, then I need to be doing the same. She needs to hear me say, “Thank you,” when someone tells me they love my smile, not, “Really? Because I feel like my teeth look weird.” She needs to know that I care about being healthy and strong, not skinny.
I owe it to my daughter to do better. I owe it to her and her future self to create a space in our home that is accepting and positive.
I owe it to myself, too.