My Mom Never Taught Me to Love My Body…and Other Beautiful Lessons I’ve Learned

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Love your body.

As a graduate of the social work program, I have a tendency to have a Facebook newsfeed filled with ‘woman-empowerment’ related articles. Over the past couple of months, I began to notice more and more articles written by moms trying to teach their girls to ‘love their bodies’. The wording varied, but it seemed to be a movement around showing pride over the natural body, appreciating different sizes and shapes, and building confidence.

I got sucked in.

I began to watch my 5-year-old closely and soon began to worry if I was doing enough to strengthen her self-image. I caught myself imagining conversations down the road about eating disorders, appropriate clothing, and treating your body with respect. It wasn’t long after that I became convinced there should have been a better screening process for who was allowed to birth and raise little girls.

A month later I found myself staring out the window at my parents’ house as I continued to worry about teaching my daughter to ‘love her body’.

Maybe I should compliment her more about being kind to distract her.

Maybe I should do more to teach her that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

Maybe I should . . . let my parents raise her until she’s older.

And that’s when it hit me.

My mom never taught me to love my body. My mom never taught me to appreciate different shapes and sizes of people or that there was beauty in getting old.

She was too busy.

She was too busy teaching me how to cook as I’d spend hours sitting on the kitchen counter with my heels banging against the cupboards. She was too busy praying with us about being thankful and blessed. She was too busy thinking about the families from the school that she worked with as a parent advocate. She was too busy teaching me how to think of others.

Maybe she forgot.

Or maybe she was so busy being thankful and serving others that she didn’t think of it.

I never remember watching my mom spend time getting ready in front of a mirror (in fact, I don’t remember us owning a full-length mirror until we were older) or agonizing over an outfit. We never went for manicures as a ‘pick-me-up’ or a way to feel pretty.

As I was watching out the window I began to realize that I was too busy worrying that I was missing it. I was missing the lake and watching the wind bend the trees. I was missing my healthy daughter swinging from the neighbor’s high rope (wait . . . is that too high?) squealing with delight.

I was missing being thankful.

Not long after, we were driving on our camping trip out west and I turned to see my daughter riding with her head out the window feeling the wind in her face. She turned to look at me and said, “I’m thankful that God made so many amazing views for us to look at, mom. He must have really known what we’d like.”

I’m thankful that God made so many amazing views for us to look at, mom. He must have really known what we’d like. ~ Five-year old daughter

I hope she keeps being too busy. Too busy looking out windows and being thankful. Too busy serving others. Too busy enjoying time with family and friends.

Do I hope she loves her body? I guess.

Even more though, I hope that she is so busy living life that she doesn’t really notice.

Which brings it all back to me.

Perhaps instead of teaching my daughter to ‘love her body’,  I’ll just keep teaching her to look out, to be thankful, and to serve others.

~ Katie Trotter

Katie Trotter with her daughterI’m Katie, the wife of a supportive, funny, (did I mention extremely handsome?) husband and mother of a sweet, spunky, reptile-loving 5-year-old girl. A year ago I left a job being the Executive Director of a non-profit to home-school our daughter and do contract work. It’s been a fun and challenging opportunity that I wouldn’t change for the world.

Over the years I have learned that God is FAITHFUL and that His love and grace allow our hearts to heal, forgive, and love more than we ever thought possible.

 

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  • olderthanyou

    What a wonderful post. I couldn’t agree more with you. No where in the Bible does it tell us to think so much about our appearances. In contrast we are to do exactly as you say- adorn ourselves with the Love of Christ.
    Yes our bodies are Temples, and we should never feel negatively about our appearance, after all we are His creations; but I think it is this world that puts too much emphasis on how we look.
    What a blessed girl your daughter is!

  • nanc

    This was a wonderful post to read. I have a 5th grader, and the girl drama is intense. If I can help her to focus on God, I’m hoping that she won’t get sucked into the drama.

  • Christy Fitzwater

    This is disarming and perfect! I never thought of thankfulness and service and a good work ethic as a glorious distraction from caring what we look like. LOVE IT!

  • SimplySaidMom

    Beautiful words, especially to those of us raising daughters! My only hope for our girls is that they always love the skin they are in, forgetting the insane platform of comparison, and realizing that their Creator knew just what He was doing when He made them.

  • Leticia Warwick Justus

    Honestly , it took me a few moments to soak in this Post and to really see what you are driving at .
    If you think of old fashioned nuns ( and modern day ones as well ) they would cover their hair , dress plainly and not EVER look at themselves in a mirror but instead focus all their love and attention outside to those in need . I pray I can be more like that ! And be an example to my 2 daughters ( 9 & 14 ) to do the same . That I can help them and myself to focus on our strengths and our physical abilities and what we can do to help others with that strength .
    Proverbs 31:17 ” She girds herself with strength , and strengthens her arms ”
    Proverbs 31:20 ” She extends her hand to the poor & needy ”
    This is such a great post ! Thank you for the reminder to see our bodies as a way to view God’s creation with our eyes and marvel at it . Including to marvel at our bodies and to use them for God’s glory & to bless others in the process however we can .
    Leticia @ King Maker blog

  • Melissa Van Kooten

    A great reminder for myself as I still struggle with loving my body. I need to stop focusing so much on myself and focus more on loving others. And maybe, then my beautiful little girls , 5 1/2 and almost 4, will see what life is really about -serving others and glorifying God.

  • d & e

    Excellent!

    Do you wonder if as the “times are a changing” and so many girls’ lives are inundated and influenced by that which is NOT holy and NOT good and NOT pure and NOT lovely (and yes, parental choices determine to what degree that all happens, be it magazines, friends, music, movies, the world, etc.) that moms feel a greater need today to counterbalance the voice of the world, and think they need this kind of “love your body” thrust in an attempt to counterbalance it all?

    When we see ourselves the way God sees us, we can appreciate how He made us, be thankful for who and what we are, and move along-in a life of thankfulness and giving, looking beyond of ourselves to be busy about loving God and serving Him.. just like Jesus did!

  • Heather Miller Montz

    This is a great post however, I still think we need to prepare them for the fact that the world we live in does care about appearances and is not distracted by the things of Christ. And actually place I was picked on the most about being chubby and wearing glasses as a child was church and I didn’t know how to respond. I never remember talking about body image at church until high school and by then it was too late for so many of us, the damage had already been done. As an adult I know these “mean girls” that said things that caused me to feel bad about my body were probably just as insecure as I was and I grew to love myself for who I was – but I would have preferred guidance at a younger age to figuring it out on my own later.

  • Sonya Burnette Abbott

    Love This!!!! I have 3 daughters. The oldest just had her 1st day of high school. Praying I am able to teach/model/show them to live, love, and enjoy the body, life, and mission God has given them.

  • April Chapman

    Wonderful post. As someone who grew up in a family that didn’t just not say anything about loving your body but instead I heard constant criticism about it…you are to fat, you are ugly, really that is what you are wearing etc that I would have loved to have been in a family like you describe that taught you so much more. I grew up hating my body and at 44 I am just now learning to like it.

  • http://thepeacefulhaven.com Janelle Esker

    This is one of the best articles I have read…so much is out there and this is absolutely the right perspective! Thank you for taking to write about this! Sending many blessings your way!

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Same here, Christy! A glorious distraction for sure (didn’t she have a wise mama?).

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    The Love of Christ is most certainly the most beautiful of adornments, isn’t it? Some of the most lovely women I know are mostly because of the gorgeous Light that shines through them.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Girl’s drama is some of the worst, I’m afraid. I remember 5th grade all too well…and that was a long time ago! So keep her “busy” and well-loved, mama.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think it’s worse today than EVER for girls. Maybe because media is so everywhere they look? When I was a girl, it was confined to the television (before cable) and Seventeen magazine. Now it’s everywhere they turn. We sure have to pray for our girls and keep them busy with the good things.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    I thought so too, Janelle! I’d never looked at it quite from this perspective, but as soon as I read Katie’s words, it rang true with me.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Oh, I am so sorry, April. Such words are so very damaging – sometimes for a lifetime. I pray that you continue to heal and realize the beautiful gift of God that you are.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Amen, Sonya! I am right there with ya!!

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    You make a good point, Heather. As our girls get older, it’s wise to prepare them with an answer to those “mean” girls. I know that I’ve had more than one conversation with our daughters on how to respond in such situations. I’ll be thinking more about this and maybe even write a post on it in the future?

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    I sure do wonder about the changing times! I mention it in a comment above, but I believe it’s worse than ever for our young girls to face. So as moms we’ll have to pour into their hearts and lives even more to counteract the lies that surround them.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Those Scriptures sure fit in to the conversation, Leticia. As women, we’re to be using our strengths to serve God and His people – not to “please” the world. Or try to. Besides, the standard is so high these days (with “perfect” models all over the place) that it’s never enough. Let’s use our gifts for God’s glory, not our own. Amen!

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    I confess that I was convicted a bit myself, Melissa. This was a good word for me – as well as in my role as a mother of daughters. As I get older, the body isn’t in quite the same shape as when I was younger. I want to be too busy being looking out, filled with thankfulness, and serving others to even notice….

  • d & e

    agreed! And I think it’s important to make the greatest input in their lives be that which is TRUTH and based on TRUTH :)

  • Suzanne

    This was a great post and helped to ease my mind. After struggling with eating disorders when I was younger I had determined not to make a big deal about body image with my daughter. Seeing so many “love your body” messages I’ve often worried that I’m not doing enough to boost her self-image and been conflicted between the focus on this and taking focus off of looks altogether. It’s is so much better to work at having a healthy lifestyle (including eating well, exercise, serving others and counting our blessings, all of which, I think, honor God) than to work at loving our bodies. Thank you for writing this and to Lisa for sharing it.

  • http://thepeacefulhaven.com Janelle Esker

    Thanks for all your amazing work on behalf of the family Lisa! I really enjoy and am encouraged by all your posts!

  • Erica

    Wow! Now that is an outlook we should all adopt.

  • Kelly Kemnitz

    Love this!! As a mom of two young girls, I sometimes get caught up in thinking about these same things…what a great reminder, for all women, to focus on loving and serving others, as well as just being thankful, instead of getting caught up in the lie that the world revolves around us!! It’s something that I think we all get caught up in at times. Our lives are so much more full and meaningful when we stop focusing on ourselves and start really living each moment! Thank you for sharing this!!

  • Dianna Demith

    I gave up becoming a nurse practitioner to homeschool my three children. They are all grown now and I don’t regret my decision at all. It hasn’t always beed easy but it was worth every second. I applaud your efforts and pray the Almighty will guide your hands and grant you the wisdom and knowledge in all your endeavors. Thank you for sharing.

    Dianna Demith