Thursday, March 27, 2014

A mothers job

I read an article today, that is still lingering in the back of my mind, even hours after having finished reading. The author is an adult woman, recalling the decision to undergo liposuction surgery when she was 18 years old. This decision was encouraged by her mother, who told her daughter at ten years old, that she had thunder thighs. It's a word I have heard before to describe myself, but never from my mother. I cringed. 

A mothers job is to teach her daughter to feel beautiful in the skin that she's in. Little girls are supposed to grow up believing that they are beautiful princesses, because that's what they are. 

A mothers job is to instill confidence in her daughter. Teach her to accept her flaws, and live in spite of them. 

A mothers job is to teach her daughter to love herself, because if she can't, then who will?

She continued, admitting that she started dieting at 12 years old. She started to binge, and purge, hoping that she would lose enough weight to raise concern in someone. Or maybe feel accepted by her mother? 

At 12 years old, kids should be outside. Riding bikes, playing with dolls, or jumping rope. Not standing in front of the mirror pinching sections of their stomach, holding their thighs up to see if they jiggle, or concerning themselves with how many calories are in the slice of pizza that they had for lunch. 

At 18, she decided to take her mothers offer to pay for her liposuction surgery. What she expected was a swan-like transformation. After the surgery, she would be thin, and she would feel comfortable in her new body. What she got, was more disappointment. She still felt ashamed of her body post-surgery and she felt ashamed of her decision to get surgery in the first place. 

In my opinion, no 18 year old needs liposuction. No 18 year old should be thinking about liposuction. But rather spending time at the mall, enjoying pizza with friends, or planning to see a movie on Friday night. 

After reading the article, I felt overwhelmed with sadness. Sad that a mother could criticize her daughter to the point where she would become involved in extreme dieting, bingeing and purging, and consider surgery at such a young age. I felt sad to think of such a young girl preoccupied with petty things like weight, appearance, and calories when her time should be consumed by dolls, jump ropes, and time with friends. No one should have to feel alone at that age. In reality, none of us are alone in the situation, because we all feel it. Every body you meet is dealing with insecurities. The only difference being, some people have learned better than others to acknowledge their flaws, and live in spite of them. 

Whenever I read an article, I try to relate it back to my own life the best I can. Like I said, i've heard the word 'thunder thighs' used to describe myself many times. I've heard my legs compared to tree trunks, man legs, every other big object you could imagine. Never from my mother. But, from mean kids at school. Those words stay with you. 

I would come home to my mom upset. She would bring me in front of the mirror and say, 
"Look at yourself. Tell me one thing you see that is ugly." 
Like a mother does, she named off some positive qualities I possessed, while I pondered my ugliness. This act made me feel dumb. 
"I don't know, my legs?" 
"You gave them the power." She told me. 
"You let the mean kids at school dictate how you feel about yourself." 
This angered me even more. I didn't like the idea of letting other people control how I thought about myself.

Remember: Not everyone was brought up with the same level of confidence as you. Encourage each other. If you could make someone else feel good during the course of the day, you had a productive day. Life is hard enough already, there is no reason to make it harder for any body. 

My mother taught me that true beauty lies within the heart and soul. I could never thank her enough for taking the time to instill confidence in both my sister in I. I could never thank her enough for having patience with us, as we learned to accept our flaws, and live in spite of them. These are lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and teach to my own daughters someday. 

To Katie: (the author): 
I hope you've learned to look beyond the reflection in the mirror. I hope you've learned that that reflection does not dictate your worth, and you've realized the true beauty that you are. I'm sorry that you went through all of those years not knowing that. 

The article i'm discussing can be found here: