Love Your (Naked) Self
I was having a lazy, scattered day with no pre-written post to publish. I was about to consider using a prompt when I tripped over this article in my FB feed: 5 Reasons to Get Naked More Often. And that was all I needed.
It's been a funny week, with my eight year old asking a thousand questions that would normally be addressed in the fifth grade puberty video. It's clear that we won't last another two and a half years with this one. I was getting dressed the other day and she was suddenly right behind me, staring and giggling. We were in the car the other night and she was volleying questions over the seat left and right. My favorite was about how Benjamin Button was born if he was so big. I won't go into the horsey details but to say this: her little mind is working overtime.
But, in all of her questions and her insatiable curiousity, I'm careful with my answers. Partly because I don't want to overwhelm her with information she doesn't really need and partly because I'm 'building the plane while flying it.'
We gals need to love our naked selves. Not because we plan to stand bare assed in front of one another. But because our naked selves shine through even the heaviest of layers.
Little girls are watching. And listening. They see us gape in the mirror at another gray hair or another new stretch mark. And they hear us cluck and comment about women on the street, in the store, at the beach. We're unnecessarily hard on ourselves and cruel about each other. Each time we judge another woman's body or hair or clothes, even if only to feel better about ourselves, we send a message. We're not worthy. We're not good enough. We need to hide our true selves: under layers of Spanx and pounds of concealer. If only...we were younger, fitter, taller, thinner. If only. THEN things would be better. Perfect.
When my daughter asks questions about my body - or hers - I don't think she's just asking physical questions. Or anatomy questions. Or sexuality questions. I don't think those things are mutually exclusive to a child. I think they are asking everything (and sometimes nothing) all at once. And HOW we answer these questions, how we shame or veil our answers sends the loudest message of all.
So go. Lock yourself in and shed your clothes. Stand naked in front of the mirror and force yourself to look. Not at your hair. Or your neck. Or your rolls. Look at the whole package. The entire person. Keep doing this until you don't flinch. You don't look away. Make eye contact with yourself. Accept that everything you are is made up of a million different pieces. Some obvious. Some invisible. Some physical. Some spiritual. All critical. Love the person you are more than the body you inhibit. And teach every girl you meet along the way to do the same.
It doesn't mean we don't bother, or we just let it all go, throwing in the towel. Lovingly accepting yourself isn't about standing still. It's about making the best choices for who you are and who you want to be. Whether it's to color your hair or lose 100 pounds, it's about doing it because it's what you want to do, not what society or peer pressure tells you to do.
In my interpretation, this is directed AT us, not about us. Loving ourselves is a splendid adventure. And when I have to start answering all my daughter's 'puberty' questions, the underlying message will be just that.
Meanwhile, I've got to go explain about Benjamin Button...