Generational Trauma and Body Image

i took the girls to gymnastics this morning, and on our way out, i overheard a guy talking to his daughter when she finished class.

he pulled her aside while she was getting her shoes and jacket back on, and her mom was a couple chairs away, watching the whole thing.

he called her "Chubby", as in, a nickname, told her she was weird looking and "dressed like a grandma". he then proceeded to tell her more than once that she needed a pedicure and went on to list the reasons why.

my blood was boiling. i was shocked that, 1) a "man" would speak to his daughter this way, 2) her mother didn't bat an eye. does he treat her mother like this too? or does her mother simply not care? how often does he (or possibly, they) talk to her like this?

this gets under my skin for so many reasons, beyond the obvious--it's messed UP.

i am going to get very personal, because self image, body dysmorphia, self confidence, and self consciousness have been a struggle for me since i was old enough to know that looks were something people cared about.

it's also something i've put a LOT of effort into throughout my healing journey the last few years, and not passing on to my girls, because i know how crippling it can be.

we all have wounds of our own, some deeper than others, but we do not have to pass them on. it is our responsibility as parents to change and heal for the better, evolve, and put an end to our generational traumas.

when i was growing up, my mother spoke very poorly of herself. she would nitpick every little thing. this is something we all do, to some extent, but this was consistent, constant, and hit harder for me for a couple reasons. 1) she always told me things like, "you have my chin", or "you have my skin", or "you have my legs", hair, etc. 2) it was amplified by the fact that she would then heavily criticize these same things in herself, and when i heard these things over and over, i did the math. if i got those things from her, and they're the same, then they must be unacceptable too. and what really made it sink in was when at one point, she told me that my dad told her that she didn't have the kind of skin that looked pretty without makeup. i have her skin. i must not be pretty, either.

let me be clear--i'm not saying this is my mom's fault. or my dad's. none of us have done any of this before and we all have growing to do. she didn't realize what i was absorbing, and she has things to heal within, too. we all do.

"no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." --maybe einstein? or paraphrased? bottom line, if there are unhealed parts of her that are causing her to feel and express herself this way, she obviously isn't of the mindset to recognize the damage it's doing, or did, to me. or anyone else.

on top of all that, the bullying was through the roof throughout middle and high school, both at school and online. some of the things i was told will stick with me for the rest of my life.

it wasn't until i had girls of my own that i began to realize how deeply rooted these wounds were for me. and that i couldn't, wouldn't, pass them on to my girls. and that i needed to do everything in my power to shield them from what i could.

i still have plenty of work to do in the realm of self consciousness and body image. but i'm acutely aware of it. i'm actively working on it. i'm SO much better off now than i was even a year ago, 2 years ago, 5 years ago.

but what's more important is that i don't talk down to myself around my girls, EVER. i don't criticize or nitpick anything about my kids' bodies, EVER. i try harder now than ever (when i actually leave the house for things with not-pajamas or workout clothes on) to dress in confidence, too. more specifically, to not give a flip what anyone else thinks when i walk out that door. i want them to wear their weird and i want them to love the way they look, to be proud of their bodies, and know that they are beautiful, inside and out, period.

so--don't be that guy. life is hard enough. lift your children up, and give them the love and support they need in abundance, so that when others do try to steal their light, they have more than enough stashed away to stand up and walk right through the bullshit.