Hello everyone, Zoë and Ari again! We started reading Dr. Hillary McBride’s beautiful book “Mothers, Daughters & Body Image” this year and it has sparked some important conversation for us. A couple of months ago, we wrote a blog about how the book and it's accompanying reflections have inspired us to consider how we have been impacted by body image narratives (If you haven't already, check it out here). Dr. McBride's book “Mothers, Daughters & Body Image” breaks down complex ideas about the impact we as women have on others when we talk about our bodies, particularly between mothers and daughters. The way women talk and think about their bodies is often passed on to their children. In this post, we wanted to share about the patterns we fall into that negatively affect the way we see ourselves and our precious bodies!
Thoughts From Zoë
Over the years, I like to believe I have become more comfortable with whatever appearance I’m presenting day-to-day. I like to think that I’ve reached a point of accepting exactly who I am and how I look. However, upon reflection, I am recognizing that there is still an underlying “pull” within me to look a certain way, even if I tell myself there isn’t. I may not verbalize anything to belittle my appearance, but internally I’m doing it more often than I’m aware of. Ultimately, it feels like I’m justifying my appearance to myself. I’ll catch myself thinking:
“If I had more time, I could have put more effort into how I look!”
“Everyone else looks so good, why am I not wearing more makeup?” or
“My hair is a mess right now, I shouldn’t be out looking like this."
Ultimately, it feels like I'm justifying my appearance to myself.
I may have experienced some growth in this area by not verbalizing these justifications to those around me, but they’re still there. And they’re almost more dangerous because they’re easily missed, but still have a serious impact. As I reflect on these internal messages that I’m sending myself, I wonder – what is wrong with me showing up exactly how I am? Why do I need to justify my appearance when I am simply existing as a human being? It brings me sadness when I hear others make apologies or disclaimers for their own appearance, so why do I so readily accept the same messages for myself?
Thoughts From Arianna
I have been on a journey of accepting, loving and celebrating my body in all of the different seasons. My body has shifted, changed, grown, shrunk. I have started practicing ways to not only accept the way I look, but truly feel pride and love for my body. On a conscious level, I have felt this way. However, I still fall into these patterns in how I relate to other people (specifically women) that puts my own body down in order to make someone else feel comfortable. I will give a few examples of how this has played out. Upon reflecting on these moments where I put my body down in order to relate to someone else OR make someone else feel comfortable, I have started to wonder why I would do this if I accept and love my body? It is something I am actively working on. I do it ALL of the time and I also see and hear it everywhere. Okay, so here is how this has played out:
Scenario One: I met a friend for coffee. The first thing she said to me was, “Please excuse my tired face - I didn’t have time to put on makeup." To that I said “Don’t even worry you look amazing - I have make up on and look exhausted and bleh." Not only did I steal her moment to share what she was feeling/an insecurity, I put myself down. I remember actually feeling confident that day and liking the way I looked. So why did I do this? This is how I have always related to other women, it has been a normal way to relate and connect.
Scenario Two: Zoë is at often at our home. I am very comfortable with her being around and feel very free to be myself. However, a couple of weeks ago, Zoë came over on a day where I was feeling particularly insecure. I hadn’t showered, was wearing my baggy clothes and felt pretty bloated and was noticing my weight difference since having Selah. I said something like, “Sorry I look like this, sloppy and gross." Zoë encouragingly said something like, “Ah, I am sorry you are feeling blah today." She didn’t put herself down. She also didn’t jump in saying something like, “No you look awesome!” She just validated my feelings. I quickly realized that I had just shamed my precious body; and Zoë’s response was healing.
"Ah, I am sorry you are feeling blah today."
Knowledge is Power
We encourage you to acknowledge your own patterns and habits when interacting with yourself and with other women. How does your self-perception translate into your everyday conversation; and how you show up both externally and internally with others? What kind of phrases or disclaimers roll off your tongue without a second thought? What is the meaning behind the things we say so naturally?
In becoming more mindful of our patterns, we can begin to adjust them. Take a moment to think about what it would be like to meet a friend for coffee after a hectic morning and restless night and not comment on your appearance when you arrive? What would it be like to simply accept your own existence without feeling the need to apologize for it?
Further, we encourage you to bring your awareness to how women around you talk about themselves. How do you respond? Do you join them in self-destructive comments? Do you quickly disagree with what they’ve said and shower them with positivity and compliments? How do your responses to others’ self-criticisms compare to how you speak about your own appearance? Now that you have this knowledge, this power, this acknowledgment, what will you do with it?
Questions from Hillary McBride’s book to further your reflection:
What have you struggled with in your life?
What are the hard but important conversations you need to have with other women in your life?
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self about growing up?
Do you have any feedback/questions on this article? Feel free to leave a comment and let us know. We'd love to continue learning with you :)