When’s the last time you looked in the mirror and told yourself you liked what you saw, or even just smiled?
It took me over three decades to stop being so mean to myself. Did I see that i was actually doing harm by always talking so negatively to myself? Not at all, in fact I didn’t think about the fact that I was putting myself down all the time. It was such an ingrained habit that I didn’t think twice about it.
One day I was looking in the mirror and in the midst of scowling and frowning at my reflection I saw my daughter watching me. It made me stop in my tracks. Mid-frown I abruptly stopped what I was doing and walked away. It occurred to me that every time I looked in the mirror, I was teaching my daughter that my reflection evoked my own disapproval. This speaks volumes, right? She was learning by watching me. Think of all the times we are encountered by our reflection or an image of ourselves and all the opportunities where we can either celebrate our image or denigrate it.
Did i want my daughter to pick up this habit of mine? She is beautiful inside and out, independent and strong-willed. The last thing I wanted was for her to struggle with her own self image and self esteem for much of her life like I did. She doesn’t deserve such negative messaging at such a young age and I certainly didn’t want to be the cause of any poor body image for her. I also don’t use words like “skinny” or “fat” which are words that hold an extreme view in our society which is completely unwarranted.
Just last year when my daughter was 12, she made an observation about the sizing at American Eagle Outfitters. She also said something about the fact that they size “cuter” clothes like jeans to be smaller while they size more comfy-er clothes like joggers to be large, implying something about how the two size extremes are supposed to dress and look. This stereotype exists and most youth can’t see it. She is smart and sharp as a whip and I’m proud of her for being wise at her age.
I say let’s change this. I challenge you to listen to any words you might be saying to yourself when looking in the mirror, trying on clothes or even just during the day. If you realize you are scowling more than you’d like, or at all, this can be changed. It’s really about forming a new habit and this can be done with practice. Just try it. When you smile you can’t help but feel good and the practice will grow on you and feel more natural. And also, if you have any children in the house, there is a good chance that someone is probably watching.