I work for this incredible organization, Girls on the Run. The mission of Girls on the Run is to inspire young girls to be healthy, joyful, and confident. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could inspire all women to be healthy, joyful, and confident?
This weekend I was representing Girls on the Run at a local health and wellness fair. This is the first one I have worked and while I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I really enjoyed sharing this mission of Girls on the Run and meeting women in my community. I’ve been dwelling on one conversation that I had and I’ve been trying to put it into words…so here it is!
As I was giving my spiel to one lady, telling her all about our 2x a week, 10 week long, 90 minute meetings with 3rd-5th grade girls…. the woman was disappointed that we didn’t start the program younger. She explained to me that her daughter, in 2nd grade, can’t walk past a mirror and not stop and look at herself. She said that her daughter looks at herself and says, “I’m so fat”, despite her small frame.
2nd grader. Probably 7 years old.
Isn’t that amazing?
I have 20 more years of experience in this world than this young girl. I struggle every day with how I look, what I have and don’t have, and what I wish I was. I haven’t always fit in, I was never the skinniest girl, I am covered in freckles (that are oh-so-easy to make fun of) and I have always preferred to wear sweatpants over cutesy dresses. I have been made fun of and I have been unhappy with my appearance, on more than one occasion.
But now, as an “adult”, I accept who I am. I am me. I have worked incredibly hard to be able to accept who I am and what I have. Of course, I have dreams, desires, and wishes (I think that makes me human), but I love who I am, who I have become, and I am comfortable with where I am in my life and my “inner me”.
I know what I look like in the mirror, I know what my “inner me” thinks about that reflection in the mirror, but I have no idea how the rest of the world perceives me. That seven year old looks in the mirror and thinks she’s fat. I wonder what that 7 year old will say in 20 years?
Now, I’m not putting blame on this mother, by any means. I know nothing about her as a person or as a mother or their family dynamics. But, as I have thought about this interaction, I can’t help but think about the power of influence.
I know that I’m not old. I’m not young either. I am still influenced by the internet, the media, my family, my friends… aren’t we all? But children have the potential to be impacted so greatly by these sources of power and influence. Children (like this 2nd grader) are learning about the world, about their family, about their bodies, about the best way to act/dress/look/be. Influence is incredible. Don’t you think?
At some point, through some social media site, I came across an article talking about “things to not say in front of your daughter”. Think I could find that article when I went to find that post? Heck no, I’m not that internet savvy I guess! However, I was able to scrounge up these links:
Great advice for moms and dads – those who have direct influence over their children.
Now, let me throw this out there. I don’t have kids. I plan to have kids, we’re just not there yet in life. So yes, I don’t have the experience with raising a child – I am sure it’s 10,000 times harder than I am imagining and that the things in those links aren’t always that easy to talk about or do. But I hope, one day, I’m able to have a daughter and be able to tell her that she is beYOUtiful, just how she is. She is a warrior, strong, intelligent, brave… And if I have a son, I hope to be able to say the same.
We are all beautiful just how we are. We just need to learn to accept that. We need to be able to tell our “inner me” we are just the way we are meant to be. We are beYOUtiful. When we accept that within ourselves, I believe the rest of the world is able to see that – we shine from the inside out.
Be you. Be beautiful.