Being the daughter of a fitness competitor can’t be easy. A few times a year, my daughters get to watch me measure my waist, hips and thighs, check my body fat percentage, and practice posing in front of a mirror in a bikini, while contorting my body in an attempt to figure out my most flattering angles.
My nine year old even takes progress pics for me so I can monitor my results accurately. They have seen me stand on stage in a bikini and five inch heels and get judged by complete strangers based solely on how my body looks. They have heard me talk about needing to build my glutes and grow my shoulders and wonder why my abs are not making an appearance yet.
I can see how these activities could skew their vision of what is important and valued in the world. It could show them that the way you look can get you attention from both women and men. It might make them think that having too much fat on their bodies or weighing too much is undesirable and shameful. But….
But, if I approach it right, focus on the right things, and am mindful of the words I use, it might also give me an opportunity to broach these sensitive topics with them and pass my values and beliefs on to them. The fact is, I compete because I love to challenge my body and see the amazing things that it is capable of. This is why I love my off-season body equally as much as my competition six-pack. A personal best in the gym means just as much as a stage win.
If I approach it right, they will learn that I admire the dedication and courage of all the women I compete next to more than I admire their incredible physiques. They will learn how competing has led to lifelong friendships with some of the most incredible, powerful women I have ever met. They will know that I am always in awe at how each of our bodies is so different and love to see the unique strengths each competitor brings to the stage. Because….
Because I truly believe that everyone is beautiful no matter what stage of the journey they are in, whether they are at the very beginning or the tail end. What really shines through is the grit, courage, determination, and compassion that these women bring to the stage, which includes a willingness to share their snacks, shoes, makeup, and yes, even butt glue, with other competitors backstage.
That’s the message I have the opportunity to teach my three girls. The fact that when I look in the mirror I don’t see my body. I see my confidence, my strength, and my determination reflected back at me. These are the things that anyone who stops long enough to really look at me and pay attention will see. The fact that when I finally step on stage I’m celebrating the four months of hard work and effort that I accomplished.
I never want my girls to be so concerned with how they look that they miss the beauty inside them and the joy of the journey they are on. So when Dove reached out and asked me and my daughters to participate in the Dove Self Esteem Project, I was immediately on board. Our assignment was to complete the This is Me activity which is a part of the Mindful Me booklet.
The focus of the This is Me activity was to help my daughters write about themselves, their families, their interest and their talents, but without talking about their looks. As a part of the project we were also asked to come up with daily affirmations starting with the words, ‘Today I am celebrating…”
The day we started, I sat down with my smart and slightly sassy sixteen-year-old and asked her what she was celebrating. She said, “Today, I’m celebrating my humour,” Worried that this was too not unique enough, I replied, “Let’s maybe try to come up with something a bit more creative.” Her answer? “Why? I’m funny. I made four people laugh today, that’s worth celebrating.” Hell, yes it is! And that was my aha moment right there. If she was proud of her humour, who was I to try and tell her that it wasn’t good enough?
I then got to watch my other two daughters, who are seven and nine, celebrate themselves and do so easily and with so much self-assurance that I couldn’t help but wonder at what age our self-esteem starts to take a hit and why. I mean, it was apparent in this exercise that my two youngest have absolutely no doubt about how awesome and beautiful they are (those were their exact words).
And why should they doubt it? Why should anyone? Through this exercise, I have come to realize that instead of focusing on our weaknesses we need to focus on our strengths and celebrate them – every single day. We need to #InspireConfidence in young girls because self-esteem is a beautiful thing that needs to be flourished. As a mother, I have the power to begin a cycle of self-love that will hopefully carry my kids through adulthood.
Overall, my girls loved the activity so much (it’s like doing a fun arts n’ crafts project) that they decided to complete all seven activities in the book! We also had some great discussions about how we can learn to appreciate our own worth and how we can help others to do so as well. I highly recommend participating in Dove’s Self Esteem Project by downloading Dove’s Mindful Me booklet and completing the daily affirmations for at least two weeks.
I invite you to talk more about girl’s self-esteem at the Dove #InspireConfidence twitter party on May 18th at 9 pm EST.
Available at Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, Zehrs, Fortinos and Atlantic Superstore or for convenient pick up here.
Disclosure: This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and the Dove 10 Years of Beauty #InspireConfidence sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.
Photos by Emily Crites.