A Mantra for Our Daughters

Your body was built for you -- no one else. Be proud of what your muscles can and will do.
01/22/2016 11:52 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I haven't shaved my legs for a few weeks. It wasn't intentional; I just haven't made the time in the morning to get it done. There is a part of me that wants to just say I'm done -- I'm going to stop shaving. I'm tired of all of this maintenance. However, it does feel a bit odd; it's not what I'm used to.

I suppose I should also mention that I'm tired of most things that have to do with looking a certain way. I have spent 10,585 days caring, and now I am left to question what it was all for.

Let's do a little Common Core math. If you tell a 12-year-old girl to spend every day until she is 41 obsessing about how she looks, how many days does she spend making herself crazy? Explain your answer.

That's right, 10,585 days. Let me explain. Countless hours, days, weeks, months and years spent wondering if I am good enough. Time wasted comparing myself to something I thought I was supposed to be. Energy and emotions tied up with thoughts of self-doubt, criticism, and body-shaming. All of this on a daily basis for 10,585 days -- until the moment it changed.

The day I decided to say I am enough.

I stood there wondering if I should start at the top or the bottom. Both ends tell a similar story. Naked, I scan over it one more time. Making sure I didn't miss anything. Grabbing my stomach. Sucking in. Going through my mental checklist of all the things that need to be fixed. Examining my body like I am conducting an autopsy. I turn around. There, standing behind me, is my 8-year-old daughter doing the exact same thing.

I don't recall many times in my life when I've heard a woman say that she loves her body. That she is happy with how she looks right now. No matter your size, women define how they feel by the way they look.

There are days when I look in the mirror and I struggle to find something positive to say. The image that I see is not what is actually reflected back to me. I have distorted it for so many years that I feel like I have lost the ability to really see what is there. I find myself angry. Angry at myself for feeling this way.

Then I hear it. Hysterical laughter coming from the next room. I peek through the crack in the door and I see them rolling around on the floor, belly-laughing. They are so happy; they don't care that I think my body is less than perfect.

It makes me stop. They make me realize that I will grow to like this body of mine. The skin. The stretch marks. All of these flaws tell stories about my babies. Why would I want to get rid of that? That's the good stuff!

Walking away from the mirror, the same mirror that my daughter was examining her body in, left me with one thought.

It is my responsibility to instill in her the idea that when someone judges her by the way she looks, it doesn't define her -- it defines them.

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That night I sat down and wrote her a message -- a mantra that she can use to define herself.

  1. Please don't ever doubt the abilities of your body. It is just as strong as your mind.

  • Ignore the negative messages you hear and see. You are beautiful just the way you are.
  • Your body was built for you -- no one else. Be proud of what your muscles can and will do.
  • Wear the size that was meant for you and wear it proudly.
  • When you look in the mirror, see yourself first with your mind and soul. Take that in; believe it. Then you can look at the image you see.
  • Always opt in instead of out. The size of your body will not determine your success in life -- your attitude will.
  • Your dad will always see you as the most beautiful girl in the world, and sometimes his opinion is all that matters.
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    If someone asked me right now how I felt about my body, I'm not sure if I would have an answer. What I do know is that I am confident, able, imperfect, and worthy. I'm good just being me. Am I evolved? Nah, not quite there yet. It felt way too good to shave my legs!