For most of my childhood, it was just my mother and I.
We were attached at the hip—wherever she was, I was too. This gave me plenty of time to observe her.
I was aware that she was not confident with her body by the way she carried herself, and how she obsessively exercised and portioned her food. When she decided to get a breast lift and implants, I noticed how she then began wearing low cut shirts and standing up straighter. She now felt “worthy.”
I observed her relationship with her body—unfortunately, I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to adopt the same mentality.
I spent many years donning push up bras and wishing my chest was more abundant. “My breasts are too small to be deemed attractive,” I told myself. I imagined taking off my shirt in front of a boy and him laughing.
Throughout high school my body matured, and my breasts grew. They also began to hang slightly, as most natural breasts do. All I could think of were my mother’s pendulous breasts and how she thought they needed to be altered—how they weren’t “good enough.”
It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga, in my late teens, that my relationship with my body began to transform. But even yoga was not enough to resolve all of my complexes, in regards to the connection I had made between body image and self worth.
Through many means—including spending time at nude beaches, forcing myself to stare at my naked body in the mirror, reciting mantras and reading books on spirituality about how the self transcends the body—I was eventually able to accept myself. Eventually I did take my shirt off in front of a man, and I did it with comfort and excitement. But it took me years to be able to do this.
Not long ago, I sat cross-legged on my mother’s bed while she tried on a new top. My first thought was that she looked beautiful. It was a white halter with an eyelet trim—delicate and feminine. Before I could say anything, she turned to me with disappointed eyes.
“I like it, but you can see my armpit fat,” she said, trying to stretch the material to the sides, to cover the meager fold of flesh that resided between her breasts and her armpits.
I looked at her with a soft, understanding smile and responded, “I have that too. See? It’s okay. You are beautiful.”
I now practice self acceptance daily. I tell myself that I am beautiful and worthy—that my body is attractive and my soul, luminescent. I also remind myself that body and soul are not one in the same.
It has been a long journey.
So, for the sake of your daughter—love your small, saggy breasts.
Love your armpit fat and the cellulite on your bum. Love your short legs and wild hair—and that bump on your nose that nobody but you thinks is unsightly.
Just love yourself. Love yourself, so that your daughter will learn to love herself.
Surely she is strong, intelligent and introspective enough to rectify poor body image later in life—but it doesn’t mean she should have to.
Author: Jenna Meyer
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina