Today is Mother’s Day in Mexico and with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend in the US, I wanted to write something about what the body image movement means to me now that I’m the mom of a little girl. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to relay this but it’s something I’ve wanted to write for a really long time. The best way for me to express myself is to create an open letter to my daughter, Catalina. I hope you enjoy and relate…if you do, could you be a doll and share this on your social media? I even have easy sharing buttons that will follow you as you scroll through the page!
My Dearest Catalina,
The moment I found out that you were a girl, I was ecstatic. I knew that if I ever had the opportunity to become a mom, I wanted a girl. I immediately felt a deeper connection to you.
I also knew deep inside my soul that this was God’s way of telling me once again that my purpose here on this Earth is to help girls and women navigate the muddy waters of body image. Having a little girl makes all of this work with body image and body positivity so much more meaningful. It gives it a bigger sense of purpose.
See, I grew up hating my body. I was the “fat” girl in school and got bullied because I was chubbier than most kids. My weight always seemed to be the main topic of discussion. I was a shy kid and didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I just wanted it to stop. So I’d go home and eat more because that was a friend that loved me unconditionally. I tried to make the least amount of noise possible so that people wouldn’t see me…or judge me on my weight.
As I grew into a teenager, my body looked like an adult woman way before the other girls. I had curves for days. I thought I was so fat and disgusting. Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking. Growing up in a society that excludes bodies that aren’t a size 2 will mess up your self esteem and how you view your own body. Back then there wasn’t the internet or social media. All of the girls in the magazines and TV looked the same. There was no such thing as body diversity yet.
I spent pretty much my entire life on the cycle of hating my body, binge eating, hating my body even more, dieting, binging again, etc.
I missed out on things because I felt too fat. I didn’t have anything to wear that made me feel irresistible so I would cancel plans or say I was busy. I didn’t feel worthy of doing certain things that I thought were only reserved for skinny people. I always told myself that I would eventually do those things someday.
Your Papa and I brought Chuy home when he was just 6 weeks old. That was the first time in my life that I could no longer settle for “someday.” He gave me purpose and inspired me to finally create what I want out of life. I started making a conscious decision to create the life I craved regardless of my weight. I decided that I couldn’t wait for the next 50 lbs to do things I love. So I did them. Slowly but surely I started to gain confidence. I started to love my body just the way it was in the moment – not promising to only love it later when I get “skinny.”
I became active for the first time in my life and found an appreciation for the outdoors. Having a puppy with lots of energy will force you to get out of your comfort zone! I started kayaking and fell in love with it. That’s where I discovered my happy place. I wore shorts for the first time in years. I realized that I deserve to have this life and I don’t deserve to be stifled sitting in the house because some stranger may not like what I look like.
The funny thing is that when I started this journey, the weight began to come off. It was happening naturally because I was no longer looking at weight loss in a negative way or as a punishment to myself.
Fast forward to the day I found out I was pregnant. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. I took so many tests! I wanted you. We both wanted you. But I can’t deny that I was terrified of what would now happen to my body that had started losing so much weight. Would gaining pregnancy weight send me back to a dark place in my mind?
Even though I was scared, I knew that I had to get this thinking under control. I refused to let something as “small” as my weight ruin my pregnancy with you. I wanted to be present for this journey. I wanted to embrace each trimester, kick, ultrasound, and belly pic. I also knew that what I said to myself out loud mattered to you inside of my womb.
I felt an incredible responsibility to really go all-in on body positivity and embrace my body in the moment. Knowing that I was growing a little girl who would look up to me in every way possible was and is a huge responsibility that I don’t take lightly.
I loved being pregnant with you. It was so amazing to feel you kicking and punching around. Your Dad and I loved ultrasounds when we got the chance to see you. He used to call it “visiting hours.”
We would talk for hours about what you were going to be like. We would guess what you would look like, how you would act, whose personality traits you would inherit.
I gained a lot of weight while I was pregnant. I was eating healthy and staying somewhat active, but my body just required that I gain a lot. I gained almost 70 lbs! That wasn’t easy to digest but it didn’t really matter to me anymore.
The moment you came into the world and they placed you on my chest, I couldn’t stop crying. I felt so blessed to finally see your perfect little self.
As the first month passed by, I was down about 25 lbs. Even though I was still way over my pre-pregnancy weight, I felt at ease with things. Sure, I was still actively losing weight and wanting to get healthier BUT I found a new appreciation for my body.
This body that I hated for almost my entire life had done something miraculous. It created a life. It created YOU. I never forget for a second how blessed I am to be able to say that. I am so grateful for my body and the weight gain during my pregnancy. It kept you safe. It made you healthy. It gave you everything you needed to be a perfect, healthy, and happy little baby girl.
I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. There are days where I look in the mirror and hate what I see. There are days when I look and love what I see. That’s perfectly normal. The relationship you have with your body is a journey filled with ups and downs.
I know that I need to be more aware of the things I say and don’t say when it comes to body image and food. Now that you are 18 months old, I see how much of a sponge you are. You mimic everything I do. Even when I don’t think you’re paying attention, you are. To all of it.
I won’t always know the right things to say. I won’t always do the right things. Just know that I’m going to try really hard to help you not go through what I went through. I can’t make you love your body. I can’t make you see your own beauty if you don’t see it too. I want you to always know that life is so much more than just looks and weight. I know the world is always going to try and tell you otherwise. I know that when you leave the safety nest of our home, I won’t be able to control the messages you see and hear. I can’t control what others might say.
What I can do is give you the foundation that you need. I will lead by example. It may not always be perfect but I’m going to try. What I will do is always be here to cheer you on and help you navigate anything life throws at you. We will be on this journey together. As much as you think I’m here to teach you, you are the one who is teaching me and reminding me to be a better version of the person I was yesterday.
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