Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mistakes are opportunities to learn

I have a few cousins who have made commitments to blog everyday this year. It is SO fun for me to read their posts every day. Thank you Skye and Mary!

Remembering how much I LOVED when anyone would comment on any of my posts and realizing that I had done a poor job with this lately I decided that tonight I wanted in on the conversation, no matter what it was.

Little did I know it would lead me to my own post. Skye posted tonight about the frustrations of the world's portrayal of women as objects and the effect it has on us personally with our own body image and feelings of worth. She invited her readers to share their opinions on the subject and anyone who knows me knows they can pretty much guarantee I'll have something to say ;)

I wanted to post my comment I made on Skye's blog here because I thought it import, mostly for Karaia, that I document a certain experience I had with her a few weeks ago and my feelings regarding it. I also thought it important so that as my children grow and reread my blog they will have no doubts as to what I hope the end goal of my mothering to to be for them.

Here is my comment:

I usually read your post through my google reader which isn't the easiest way to comment. But tonight I decided that no matter what you posted I wanted to be part of the conversation and just clicked over to your blog before I even began to read. I'm SO glad I did.

This is a hot button topic for me as well. We are taught to take good care of ourselves. To value the bodies Heavenly Father has provided us. In some ways that means show case them, physically, in the best light possible. But this is a double edge sword for we can too easily cross the line of improvement of self to comparison of self.

I had a moment at the store the other day where I was feeling less than attractive. Karaia was with me and caught me glancing at a mirror I was passing and sucking in and patting down the love handles as if that was going to make a difference. It was a moment. Just fraction of a second of movement. I didn't think anyone, let alone my 9 year old daughter was watching. The daughter I have consciously made sure I never say any negative body image comments about myself around. But she picked up on my subtle frown and my quick movements and asked in disbelief, "Do you think you are BIG??!?!?!?! Because you are SO not."

I was crushed, well and flattered, but mostly crushed that she knew what I was thinking in that second of self disapproval. Because I knew that because of the brief, poor, example on my part she would begin to examine herself in each mirror as we continued our shopping. And she did. Before that event she was happily oblivious that there would be any reason to scrutinize her mirror image.

The shame of teaching such a lesson is weighty.

We can't run away from the media. And at some point most women will succumb to feelings of being less because of it. But that doesn't mean we can't fit our children with armor of the strongest self value that stems from personal growth.

I try very hard to teach my children that it's not about size, it's about health. It's about being able to do everything with our bodies that we would like to and that Heavenly Father needs us too. My children know about calories and exercising. They look at labels and make food decisions based on the information they find there. No one is ever judged on their choices, but they know they have choices. They know about portion sizes and have started, on their own, to be mindful of that. They know healthy choices make them feel better and they can play longer without feeling as tired.

I'm hoping that with these habits formed as children they will grow to view their bodies more as tools and less as packaging. That they will care more about what they can do vs how it looks. That their children will never learn, inadvertently, that mirrors can be used to tear themselves down, but rather to confirm what they already know. That they are of worth regardless of the package.

What are your thoughts and experiences about this subject?


Denise said...

Emilie - I always value your opinion, and love to read your posts! Skye's post and your comment to it had me in tears. Tears of happiness that I belong to such a wonderful family!

Mary said...

I think it's wonderful that you make such a conscious effort in this area. We really are bombarded with the message that "image matters", and that there is a certain mold we ought to fit into. I completely agree that we ought to teach our children to love and respect their bodies, and to take care of them in every way we can. So much of the gospel ties back to the fact that our bodies are temples and we need to keep them clean and take care of them.

I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about what happened in the store. Although it made an impression on her, I'm sure all of the ways you try to teach her about a higher way will continue to make a bigger impression.

Tobi said...

Well said. I love the line to view our bodies more as tools and less as packaging. Your perspective is always so enlightening!

Skye L. said...

I also love your perspective as tools rather than packaging. Thanks for being such a great example. Thanks also for the inspiration to blog everyday. Sometimes I really don't want to do it, and feel like I'm rather dull but I know I'll love to look back at the posts a few years from now!