The Quaker teacher, Douglas Steere, was fond of saying that “the ancient human question, ‘Who am I?’ leads inevitably to the equally important question, ‘Whose am I?’ for there is no self hood outside of relationship.”
“When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.”
― Diane Von Furstenberg
Plus Size Woman? Are you kidding me?
Indulge me—please. If only for the next five minutes.
As a dancer, it seems I spent a lifetime standing before walls of mirrors.
As a dance teacher, I then stood before hundreds of young men and women who stood in front of walls of mirrors.
Many of those years were in fact spent standing in front of not only mirrors, but panels of judges, who seemingly held my destiny in five sets of hands. One stroke of their pencil—one half of a half of a point—and I was “the winner,” or just “a runner-up.” On several occasions, it was a mere hundredth of a point. For years, my one and only ambition was to be “the next Miss Virginia,” and then “the next Miss America.”
Consider the ramifications. Smile.
You can understand, then, my “passionate rant” about the recent Calvin Klein ad sporting Myla Dalbesio, beautiful young woman in her underwear (if that wasn’t enough), and then referring to her “size 10” figure as qualifications for being a “plus-size model.” If you haven’t heard, take a few minutes and listen/read her story: Size 10 is Plus Size Now?
After listening to her story, I was dumbfounded. Not really shocked, just mad at this weight-obsessed society we live in.
I desperately wanted to get out my soapbox and stand on it.
I am a Size 10.
Yes, I wear mostly size 10. Some size 8’s here and there. So, as of this week, I am now considered “plus size.”
Do I care? Not gonna lie…probably.
But what I most care about, now, is being healthy. Being able to swallow and digest my food and drink. This medical crisis I find myself in is a wake-up call to any body dysmorphic disorder remnants left in my life. All I really want is to “eat, drink, and be merry” with my family and friends. It doesn’t get any more basic than that.
I also care a great deal about the hearts and minds of women—women of all ages. I give a great portion of my time, energy, and talent to helping women become their very, very best selves.
I guess that is what made me so dang mad.
I Asked My Two Healthy, Beautiful, Happy-in-Their-Skin Girls
Knowing I was both working on this blog piece and a new book project specifically targeting the legacy we, as mothers, are leaving our own, I asked both of my daughters what they would say about “how” they were raised or “what” enabled each of them to have such a healthy sense of self.
Without knowing what the other said, their responses were quite similar. Off-the-cuff, they responded:
“When it comes to the heart of the matter—I know I was loved by my family and in Christ. We ate so healthy that I never had problems with my weight in the first place so I think y’all created a healthy environment. I just really enjoy eating good food when I’m hungry and don’t view it as making me too fat or skinny.
I loved shopping and enjoyed wearing clothes people gave me, i.e., Ma or Uncle Mike and so I had people speaking into me that I looked cute or just positively speaking into me so I didn’t even know anorexia was a thing till 8th grade at my ballet studio. So, I wouldn’t say I was being sheltered. I would say y’all just focused how enjoying food, i.e., pizza as a treat , cookies for after a big event , donuts. Those were treats not an every day thing like it is for so many kids. Think that’s it.”
“Hmmmm….I’m really not sure 🙂 I know that’s oh so helpful! I’ve been sitting here for 20 minutes while drawing trying to think of something concrete – but I almost wonder if that’s the point….a good body image isn’t something you build once through some concrete action. It takes a lifetime of unconditional love and support. It’s about small daily steps – about knowing you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Even in my high school days when I certainly didn’t feel pretty a lot of the times, you and Dad never let me believe that, you know? I knew you wanted me to look my best – bought me Proactive, etc. – but I also knew that your love didn’t depend on it, nor anyone else’s. Does that help at all?!? Sorry to not be more solid with a specific actionable step!!”
And, then a minute later, Candace sends one more thought:
“Okay, what about this? It’s keeping the line between self-worth and body image very distinct. I think it’s only when the two get muddled and mixed that you start to have serious problems, right? xoxoxox”
I like to think of in this linear manner:
Unconditional Love + Sense of Security + Acceptance and Belonging = Safe Place to Grow.
Unlike me, both of my girls were immersed in a family culture where they sensed safety and acceptance and affirmation—based on the foundational truth that GOD, their Creator, did a good job. It wasn’t based or placed in the hands of judges or agents or ____________________.
Oh, this is not a BRAGGING moment of how we parented, but a cry to all you great moms out there who are raising daughters (and sons, actually).
WE have to silence the cacophony of cultural voices that scream at our children to “be this” and “be that.”
WE have to fall in love with our own skin because our children are watching.
WE have to herald the message of all things “healthy.”
It’s a big task, but together, we’ve got it!
Share Your Tips
Please, I’m begging here, share your tips or thoughts on how your overcome the culture’s lures and lies. How do you talk to your children about body image?
And, please share these thoughts with your friends and invite them into our conversation.
Stay tuned for an upcoming newsletter on “Leaving a God-Sized Legacy of Emotional Health.” Subscribe today!