My teenage daughter came down the stairs the other day in her swimsuit to head to the pool. This was the least clothing I had seen on Grace since she was a little girl. Usually, my super-athlete is wearing jeans or soccer shorts and a T-shirt. But here she was in a bikini with a womanly figure I hadn’t realized was hiding under her loose-fitting clothes.
I was simultaneously shocked to see my kiddo looking like a woman and also saddened to see the body I used to have. Lucky girl, she got the bustline, flat abs and shapely legs I used to have. My next thought was a sense of urgency to help my daughter keep that wonderful body, appreciate it, care for it and not take for granted that it will always be there, looking like that. I haven’t set a good example for her, frankly. I did not keep up with my workouts, nor eat more vegetables than starches, nor even wear a supportive bra during workouts, pregnancy or breastfeeding.
How could I warn her of all that could happen to her body, inside and out if she didn’t tend it? As with so many other things in life, even seeing isn’t believing when someone is trying to warn us of potential danger or problems. I can’t yell “I used to look like you! Don’t let this happen to you!” That would set an awful example about not loving the body you are in and instead worshiping superficiality.
I do worship the body I’m in. I’m grateful for what it has provided (including growing and feeding four children). It has kept me standing and dancing and functioning well all these years. And I’m not superficial, really. I’m just mad at myself for thinking a great and healthy body would just maintain itself as though frozen in time. It doesn’t. It didn’t. It won’t.
Instead, I will tell her: “Nurture, nourish, treasure and tend your body, for everything that’s on the inside of it as well as what’s on the outside. It’s the only one you have so take good, good care of it. And wear a good bra, for heaven’s sake!”