October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Perfect the Way I Am

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

Teaching my kids to have a healthy self image? Honestly, I’m not sure how well I succeed in the healthy self-image department. In my head, I rotate between looking like this

(Credit: nycbarstoolsports.com)

and this

(Credit: petuniafacedgirl.blogspot.com)

Sometimes within the same day. Or just a few hours.

A few years ago, before I had weight loss surgery, I weighed 262lbs. Today I weigh 145lbs. I know a little something about how self-image changes over time, as a body changes. However, 75% of the reason I had weight-loss surgery was because I hated shopping at Lane Bryant and sweating all the time. It had much less to do with being HEALTHY than with being HOT.

And now that I’m thin — now that I’ve achieved this physical body I’ve always wanted — I still think about all my extra skin, my stretch marks, the “elevens” between my eyebrows that I wouldn’t mind being botoxed out if there were a safe way to be botoxed. Clearly I’m no expert at having a healthy self-image!

My child who seems to struggle the most with self-image doesn’t appear have any physical issues to speak of, the way I do. It’s The Informant. Sometimes when she acts out, I get the sense that she’s really unhappy with HERSELF rather than whatever or whoever upset her.

For example, one day I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and she came to me to report some grave injustice or something. I remember she was unhappy and stuck her tongue out at herself in the bathroom mirror.

I told her, “Look at yourself in the mirror.”

She struggled, but she did it.

(Credit: Flickr/borkur.net)

I said, “Tell yourself you are perfect exactly the way you are, exactly the way god made you.”

(I have no idea where that g word came from. I am not even sure I believe in god. But I said it.)

She said, “You’re perfect the way you are.”

I said, “Look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m perfect exactly the way I am, exactly the way god made me.'”

She said, “No!”

It was extremely uncomfortable for her. I am sure there were a myriad of reasons why and I’m not even going to speculate about them. I did it first — looked at myself in the mirror and said “I am perfect exactly the way I am, exactly the way god made me” — and it wasn’t easy for me either. It felt like jumping straight into a cold swimming pool.

I made her say it (as much as one can “make” a seven-year-old say something. I didn’t, like, hold her down and tell her SAY IT! SAY IT! SAY IT! or even coerce her in any way but I told her it was really important to try.) I think the fact that she felt uncomfortable with saying it meant that she hadn’t thought of herself as someone who is perfect — in image or inside herself.

I’ve asked her to do it a few times since then. I’ve also asked Mineral, who has severe ADHD and anxiety, to say the same thing into a mirror. He, too, struggles, knowing that his behavior is often different than what’s expected.

And I’ll continue saying it to myself.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She’ll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she’s hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it’s pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate’s love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they’ll respect their own and others’.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children’s self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she’s trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama’s Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, “I’m not beautiful.” And while it’s hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child’s lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today’s society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can’t give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don’t You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma’s baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter’s clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she’s in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry’s choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is.

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29 Responses

  1. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet […]

  2. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  3. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

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  5. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  6. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  7. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. Comments (10) […]

  8. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  9. How on earth did you find that “second” picture? What the heck did you google?! That’s so funny and I Totally relate. I’ve seen that guy in my mirror too.
    I think you’re so wise and your children are so fortunate that you’re willing to work on this with them.
    I do believe it will give them something they wouldn’t have otherwise.
    I’m following your blog now. Can’t wait to hear what happens next.

  10. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  11. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  12. What a great exercise! I think I will have my kiddo say it tonight before bedtime, thank you for the inspiration.
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

  13. Owning the truth about ourselves is often challenging — even the “good stuff” since many of us were taught that self-acknowledgment was boasting or self-centered. I acknowledge you for beginning to claim your own perfection as well as encouraging your children to do so.

    • Thank you, Shonnie. It is hard for me to say positive things about myself and not feel like I’m being… something negative, which you pointed out. But I’ll keep doing it!

  14. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  15. I forgot how much I LOVE you!!! This is the perfect post.

  16. I love this post…I’ve struggled with my own body image and am so scared for the challenges that my daughter might face. I want to set a good example but I’m sure she notices when I change clothes 5 times trying to get dressed. I’m totally going to do your little mirror exercise. It will be good for me…and for my daughter!! Thank you! You’re very clearly an awesome mama : )

  17. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  18. That’s such a great thing to tell yourself! What a nice statement for your kids to take to heart. I’ll be sharing it with mine as well.

  19. […] Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is. […]

  20. What an incredible exercise! I think I would have trouble with it. I’ll have to try it with my 5-year-old and see how it goes.

  21. First off, your photos made me laugh, and I can totally relate to the swinging emotions regarding appearance!

    Thanks for the honest post. I’m seeing as a mama that my very brokenness can be used to heal and help others, especially these sweet children entrusted to me.

    Although I’ve had my share of spiritual doubts and dryness, I am religious and am not surprised God came up in your conversation because I truly believe that so many of us turn to food or turn to tweaking our appearance in the same way some turn to God. Even when I felt like God was more of a nice idea than a loving presence in my life, I’ve never stopped longing for a divine connection, for something larger than myself. I was overweight as a child and teased because of it. Later, I fell prey to anorexia and bulimia and became too thin. Even now that I’m at a mostly healthy place, I still have days where I struggle with feeling like I’m not thin/pretty enough (read: good enough). So many women have it in their head that if they finally lose weight or achieve something else worldly they will have relief from the pain they experience in life. Food or beauty or the scale becomes their god. Dieting is like a prayer; a cry for control.

    For me personally, I was physically cured from my destructive habits before I was HEALED. Healing took place on a soul level, and it required me letting God in. Before I allowed God to be a part of the equation for my healing and recovery and my plans to get better I desperately wanted to come up with a way to be healed that didn’t require me to trust anyone else – not even my real Savior. I may have not been controlling my weight any longer, but I still was trying to control my world because I thought that if I had total jurisdiction over everything that happened to me, I would not be so vulnerable. I could inoculate myself against pain. It wasn’t until I relinquished control and truly believed I was made and created for greater things and that I was a beloved daughter of God. Likewise, I wasn’t some needy weirdo because I had a desire to feel loved and to believe in a Higher Being. It began to offer me some peace when I discovered why my own internal well was so hard to fill. It wasn’t because something was wrong with me. I was designed that way. I was designed to need Him. This didn’t make me weak; it made me human.

    Sorry! I’m obviously very passionate about body image, etc. But the truth is we are beautiful and enough just the way we were created. We don’t need to spend a lifetime trying to fix ourselves.

    I haven’t done this same exercise with my kids, but I do have a regular affirmation I try to say regularly to them by looking them in their eyes. “I love you just the way you are.”

    However, your beautiful post made me realize that they need to start saying and believing these things, too. They need to believe in their own beauty and worth and give it value even when others don’t because there will probably be awful people (steer clear of mama bear because I’ll tear you up!) who degrade them at some point in their lives. So I think you’ve inspired me to try this mirror exercise! Thank you, and blessings.

  22. That’s pretty powerful. I may have to do this exercise on this with my girls (and soon!) too. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Hey! I am finally getting to reading all the rest of the carnival posts and came across yours.
    I also had WLS (three years post op), and struggle with my own self-image, very similarly to yours. Cracking up at that poor puppy picture! I just wanted to reach out and thank you for putting that out there, I occasionally get judged because I had the surgery in natural mommy groups because “it’s not the natural” way of fixing it. But as you and I know, it’s definitely not easy, but a way to help us get a grip on our health, and shed those extra layers of fluff.
    I love your exercise that you did with your daughter. Once mine is older, I am going to adopt that for her- she’s 14.5 months right now, so I will just have to be the voice she hears saying she is perfect, just as we are supposed to be. ❤
    Feel free to FR me on facebook or shoot me an email, I'd love to connect with other mamas that have crunchy ideals, that have been through what we have. 🙂

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