"Mommy, I don't know how to tell you this, but that sports bra makes your back look fat."
I work hard on my body. I've battled my own image in the past. Fought through years of body dysmorphia and come out on the other end safely. I work in the fitness industry and have chiseled friends and co-workers. That's not what drives me. Being fit, truly fit and strong, now that to me is a lifelong passion.
I want to be able to get on the floor with my grandchildren and not worry about getting up. I want to travel with my husband when the kids fly from the nest, and still be able to hike a mountain or swim in the ocean.
My kids hear me say repeatedly that what matters most is your health. But society's pull to the dark side has recently been tugging at my 6 year-old.
So as much as I always say I want to be fit, and as many times as she's witnessed me accepting compliments graciously about my figure, only to have me correct her thinking immediately with a whisper, "it's nice to hear, but what matters is how fit and strong I am." In that moment, it wasn't about that. It wasn't about being fit or strong. It was my opportunity to give my daughter the gift of a lifetime: the ability to love and accept her body, imperfections and all.
Only, I didn't know how to do it. I had no idea what to say. And to be honest, I desperately wanted to change my shirt before I even peeked.
So I turned around to see what she saw. Glanced quickly and spun back around. I could see how badly she felt telling me about my imperfection. I wanted to relieve that, too. I didn't want to give up on my belief that strong and fit is a better goal than skinny or chiseled, but that wasn't really the battle I was facing. This was me against society. And I was NOT gonna lose.
As my eyes met back with hers, it came to me. I had to acknowledge my imperfection and re-categorize it. I had to take it out of the bucket of "bad stuff" and put it on a shelf labeled, "what makes me human."
"Oh, yeah, I don't care about that. I don't need to be perfect. I still love how I look."
10,000 tons of stress left her forehead. She smiled ear-to-ear and said, "I love how you look, too, Mommy."
And then...poof...the moment was over.