Something interesting happened recently during a trip to the mall with my daughters. I was in search of a few new shirts and my personal stylist (aka 9-year-old daughter) said she knew just the store! She knows my style and picked out some perfect pieces! I told her my size and taught her a trick. It’s easier to search for my size starting from the back of the rack instead of the front because that’s where all of the XLs are. So off she went in search of XL shirts in the earthy tones I wanted.
As we made our way through the store she stopped and had a very confused look on her face. She stood in the middle of the divide. You know, that area of the store where the “normal” sizes end and the “plus” sizes begin. She stood there looking from the front of the store to the back and asked me what the difference was. She then saw a large sign that read “Plus Size” and wanted to know what that meant. I told her that’s where the clothes for full-bodied women were. She still didn’t understand. She asked if those clothes were for me or not. I told her that I was in that funny in-between size. Not quite “normal” but not quite “plus” either. I told her I had to get L or XL depending on the brand because sometimes it fits too snug. Plus sizes don’t usually fit me right either and I have a hard time finding what I like because I guess since I’m fuller I want to look like a curtain or a table cloth…
She started to tear up and I asked her what was wrong. She told me that it made her angry to see that the clothes for fuller women were in the back. Did their size mean that they weren’t as good as a smaller sized woman? Were they not beautiful enough to get clothes off of the same racks as the smaller sizes? Why were they different? Not just their sizes but why the styles and prints weren’t as cute as their slimmer entry-way counterparts. The look on her face told me that she was hurting for me. Some part of her felt bad for her mom who she thought had been slighted in some way.
It was a great opportunity for me to have a conversation with her about self-image, self-worth, and body positivity. I explained to her that over the years, I’ve come to love and accept my body. I don’t let others dictate what’s beautiful and I don’t attach my self-worth to my body (although I used to). It didn’t make sense for me to expect my body to look the same as it did during my younger years. The way it did when I was more dedicated to my physical appearance and my priorities were different. It’s unrealistic to expect my body to look the way it did before I was pregnant five times and went on to have two beautiful daughters. Before I was raising a family and building a business. Before I realized that my physical appearance wasn’t the stick by which I measured my self-worth.
She told me that she was just happy to have me in her life. She knew kids who didn’t have moms and that she didn’t care what size I was. She told me that you can’t see what’s in someone’s heart by the size of clothing they wear. At the end of the day what matters is what’s inside. That’s when I knew that I was living by example. Just a few years ago, I felt really bad about my size. I was cruel and unkind to myself and would say things about my weight out loud. I noticed that my daughter was listening even when I didn’t realize it.
In recent years, I’ve learned to be grateful for having a healthy body and not worrying so much about how it looks. While I’m taking steps to tone up my writer’s body, I love it in the process. It’s important that I have a positive body image and nurture my sense of self-worth not only because I have a daughter who’s watching and learning from my example but because I deserve to love myself even if I never end up losing the weight. I’m so grateful for her observation that led to our conversation. She knows that she’s the one who defines beauty and that beauty doesn’t define her self-worth.
Thank you for taking the time to read about this unexpected opportunity to have such an important conversation with my daughter. I hope that you got what you needed out of this. I also wanted to remind you that no matter your size or physical appearance, your beauty radiates from the inside out. Our body is just one aspect of who we are. I encourage you to put less pressure and expectation on the physical and more attention and energy into your inner beauty.
Sending you lots of love and wishing you all that you need to make your inner beauty radiate!