I grew up in a feminist household. My mum was a highly regarded published chemist who constantly endured the battle of the sexes in an industry that was dominated by men. She instilled in me a value of self worth and was a serious badass when it came to anyone throwing shade at her kids or her life. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I was taught that no one had the right to put me down and that speaking up for myself was my way of saying hey, I love myself – fuck off.
My 20s were especially hard for me. And I think that’s where things started to go south in my self love/worth. I failed at numerous things including relationships and careers, and at one point in my life I thought the ambition I once had completely disappeared and I’d end up living a stagnant life. I let people take advantage of me and became an empty shell of myself.
Then slowly, something in me changed. I got my head out of my ass and started piecing myself back together. I sought therapy, broke up with Facebook and took a much needed social media time-out that allowed me to gain more confidence and stop comparing myself to others’ highlight reels. I started to think of my “failures” as lessons and figured out what I learned from them to apply those teachings to all the aspects of my life. I became a Stepmom and then a Mom and suddenly I had these tiny people looking up at me like I did to my parents. I didn’t want them to ever feel about themselves the way I did, so I worked harder, showed them the value of self worth and celebrating life’s little victories. As I hit my early 30s I had my groove back and was genuinely happy and fulfilled in my life and myself.
Then, the other day someone noticed my baby bump and said “Oh wow. You’re really big. You must be having a big baby”
This woman, a total stranger, who felt compelled to mention my size, made a part of me feel like I was in my 20s again and completely insecure about what people thought of me. I was so stunned by how quick my brain went to the negative that when the comment came out of her mouth, I just did nothing but look at my daughter and then throw the woman some serious side eye. I couldn’t even muster up the words to say “I think I look great.”
On the drive home I realized that I had no control over the stupid shit that comes out of people’s mouths, but one thing for sure was that I needed to step up and be the example to my kids that my Mum was to me.
I’d like to give that receptionist the benefit of the doubt and think that maybe she wasn’t judging me, but the fact remains, making a comment on someone’s body is unacceptable – no matter who you are or what your intentions.
We live in a world where our self worth can be measured by likes or comments. And it’s up to us as mothers, step mothers, caregivers and guardians to show our children what true self love looks like and what respect for other people is all about. Self worth and love isn’t just about instilling confidence in our kids, it’s about teaching them the value of being authentic and genuine. It’s about being grateful for our blessings and for the people in our life. It’s about stopping and connecting with people and about supporting ourselves and others.
The world can be a scary judgemental place and the best way for our kids to learn how to handle it all starts at home. They learn from watching us, so the next time you find yourself making a judgement on yourself or someone else, stop, take a moment and think is this something I’d want my kids to say or do?