Welcome to a new feature on my blog ‘Guest What?’ which each week sees a guest post on my blog. My first week features the lovely Jessica McGlynn from the blog ‘Catch a Single Thought‘. You can find her on many forms of social media – @jjmcglynn on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You can email her at catchasinglethought at gmail dot com.
At the start of this month I decided to take part in something called ‘Shredtober’. Along with over 70 other women we are completing the ’30 day shred’ throughout the month of October. My personal reason for doing this was to improve my core strength muscles which have taken a beating since having two pregnancies fairly close together and to get fit as I haven’t done any exercise since finding out I was pregnant with Meg over 5 years ago.
As I began the exercising Meg happened upon me and said, ‘Mummy, why are you doing that?’ My instant reply was ‘To make Mummy look better.’ Meg looked puzzled as she replied ‘But Mummy you are already beautiful.’ Now, this was my mistake. I didn’t actually mean that I would physically look better, just that I would be better in my shape and my well being but of course, my 4 year old took my words literally and interpreted them to mean that I wanted to look different.
Body image is a big deal to me and last year I wrote an open letter to Meg about some of the bullying I experienced because of the way I look, something that I hope she never has to go through. Since her comment about being beautiful and not needing to exercise it has been on my mind a lot that I have been doing her a disservice. I have been leading her to believe that beauty is only skin-deep. My children know that they are beautiful, it is something that I tell them every night. It is the last thing that I tell them before they go to sleep: ‘Mummy loves you both, beautiful children.’ but I haven’t been teaching them that to be beautiful requires much more than that. It’s about looking after your body. It’s about being kind to people and displaying good and honest personality traits.
It’s about being generous, compassionate, determined and honest. It’s so so much more than physical although it is important to teach our children how to take care of their bodies. I want to pass on to Meg and Eli that beauty is about finding their strengths and following their hearts. It’s not about looking good in the world’s eyes.
Since Meg has started school I have seen a new side develop. She has become exposed to a new arena. The way she looks is now in play. ‘But Mary wears her hair like that and she looks pretty.’ ‘My socks don’t look like everybody else’s’ – minute things really but they are the building blocks that will make or break her self-esteem. Is it okay to not look like everybody else? She is the only girl in her class with ringlets, will that start to affect her view of the way she fits in? It is so hard to protect our children from the outside world when we can’t be at their sides every second of the day but I believe that we can put the right tools in their hands so that they can go out there and be self-assured and know who they are and that it is okay to be them.
One of the key ways we can do this is by letting them know that we are beautiful. Wearing our bumps and lumps and marks and scars with pride. We may feel on the inside that we would change a million things if we could but our children don’t need to hear us say that, don’t need to pick up on our silent communication of that. How do I carry myself? How do I view myself? Do I give out the impression that I am comfortable in my own skin? These are the things that will teach our children how to be confident and love who they are, whatever shape that might be and however they are wired on the inside.
I know I am so guilty of talking about how unsure I am in new situations. I get anxious when I don’t know what to expect and I am sure that Meg and Eli can pick up on those vibes. I need to work hard to not overshadow their natural enthusiasm with my own worries and concerns, to put that aside and put a brave face on so that they don’t feed on my personal insecurities.
I am making it my mission that I am going to put in place the right building blocks to give my children the best start I can when it comes to self-esteem. That they can grow into confident little people who know without a doubt that they are loved for being them. That they are perfect just the way they are.
Thank you so much Jess. Next week: Jennifer Dixon from My Mummy’s Pennies.