TO MY DAUGHTER

My body is freaking amazing.

I said that out loud when I typed it.

AMAZING. 

Have you ever said that? Do you believe that? 

Yah, it’s rough...I know. Because I don’t either. I mean, I think it might be true and I can scientifically believe that all of these pounds of flesh, organs, hairs, muscles, and blood - beat, grow, inhale, blink, and move to keep me alive and that THAT is freaking amazing. But when I look at myself in the mirror…

Not so amazing. Kind of scary actually. Like, why is my face so hairy? Is that boob exponentially bigger than the other? Do my arms always shake like that when I wave? Why do I have to gain all my weight right there?

The story of my body starts with a lot of insecurities (as does everybody's I’m sure). I remember being in the 7th grade and watching girls a little older than me walk around in their cute, little two pieces at Loon Lake. Everything about them was tan, toned and perceivably perfect. They were surrounded by friends and I was mortified that I was at the lake with my family in a one piece. Nothing was tan or toned about my body. It was one of the first times that I would believe a lie that I still fight today not to believe which sounds something like: they are happier because they look like that. I sat in a sweatshirt in the blazing sun on a beach chair the whole day and watched my family have fun in the lake because I was paralyzed to actually live in the body I had been given. What once was just a body became so much more. It felt like everything was riding on my body now. How I felt. The friends I had. How people felt about me. My happiness. My security.

I was all of the sudden mortified by my white, skinny legs. Any sort of good humored jokes that were directed at my appearance were daggers to my heart. The itty bitty rolls I had then, that were  maybe as thick as my index finger now, felt like disastrous traitors that I wished I could just cut off.  

When I think about my daughter - you know, the daughter I don’t have. I want her to believe that her body is freaking amazing. That her heart pumps blood throughout her body so that she can hold my hand. That her lungs take in oxygen so that she can sing her grandparents a song. That her muscles grow so that she can run into her daddy’s arms.  

I want her to esteem the beauty of people’s character over their perfect butts and great outfits. Because the world has got it COMPLETELY BACKWARDS even though we know that we love the insides of people more than their outsides.

I want her to be motivated to be active not so that she will be thin, but because she wants to take care of what God has given her with the awareness that being active will make her healthy, capable, and strong in her lifetime.

I want her to learn quickly how to diffuse the lie that the happiest people are the ones that society has deemed as beautiful- But instead to realize that the happiest people are the ones that are the most secure with who they are-insides and outsides. It’s a security that comes from not looking at what and who God made everyone else to be, but instead to focus on looking at herself and learning about what and who God has made her to be. A security so drenched in His love for her that she feels it when she loves others and when we love her.

When it comes to desire, I want her to be watchful for the people who adore her for her insides- (what makes her unique) and to not give any time to the people who desire her for her outsides- (what makes her attractive). And that she in turn would esteem and appreciate others for their inside character and uniqueness instead of their outsides.

When my daughter sees me lacing up my shoes, grabbing my yoga mat, or  putting on my swim cap I want her to know that her mommy isn’t being active to look good. To be the hot mom. To be thin. To have the nice butt. She’s being active so that she feels good. That’s the paradox God has created in all of this. By putting in hard work and putting our body through something kind of/sort of miserable we come out feeling capable, refreshed, strong, and sane. I doubt it every time, but it’s true.

I want my daughter to realize that her body isn’t her. It’s just the address of her soul (someone wise said this but I can’t remember who). It’s only a matter of time before it starts falling apart no matter how good she takes care of it and that’s okay. The only thing that will last and what we love most about her, is her insides-her soul. So she needs to take more time to nurture, grow, care, and workout her insides more than her outsides.

All of these mentalities on our bodies, beauty, and being active are the same things I want for me and you. I don’t want how I feel about my body to be defined by what society has designated as beautiful. I don’t want to value a person’s outsides more than their insides. 

I’ll catch myself saying things like, "she has pretty eyes" or "he is nice and tall" as if those are the reasons that I should like them the most. But instead I want to be saying more things like, "she has such a positive spirit" or "he always makes me feel so welcomed". Those are the characteristics I want to remember people by and value them for, because that's how I want to be remembered and valued for too. So maybe in teaching my future daughter, I can teach myself.