You'd Be So Pretty If...

How to teach your daughter to love her body—even when you don't love your own.

Retroactive Self-Acceptance

What did I think was so wrong with my body?

Facebook users have been having fun recently with "Way Back Week" -- users have been changing their profile pictures to childhood photos. It's been a blast to see some of the ways people have changed...or haven't.

A friend of mine has been posting old childhood pictures of us, many of which are from my days as a dance student. Every time I get a notification that I've been tagged in a photo, I admit I've cringed a little.

In my book, You'd Be So Pretty If...: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies -- Even When We Don't Love Our Own, I talked about the self-loathing I felt during my early adolescent years. It's a topic that resonated with many of the mothers and daughters I interviewed for the book-- and with many of the women who've read it. Every adult woman, it seems, shudders at the memory of herself at a certain age. And unfortunately, too many of the teen girls I talked to are full of doubt, insecurities and body loathing.

But a funny thing happened when I clicked on the link to a photo this morning.

Suddenly, there I was -- in all my early adolescent awkwardness. And as I waited for the negative wave to wash over me, I realized: It wasn't coming. Instead, I looked at that girl with the objectivity that almost 30 years can bring. Awkward, sure, but not the hideous being I once thought I was. Cute smile, kind eyes and well-muscled body.

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What on earth did I ever think was so wrong with that?

Much in the same way that those who love us don't see us with the same critical eyes that we turn on ourselves, looking at those photos with the buffer of time and distance lets me see the girl I once was as if she were someone else. Like an old wound that has long since healed, I can remember the pain if I try really hard. 

But why would I want to?

I can't go back and change the way I felt about myself or the unkind ways I treated my body back then. But I can choose to forgive and to remember that girl with compassion and kindness. And I can choose to be kind to the woman I am today, knowing that some day, I'll look back on her and realize that she was just fine as she is, too.

 

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

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