Barbara Walters interviewed Oprah Winfrey in 2014 asking her to finish this sentence, “Before I leave this Earth I will not be satisfied until I have…” And Oprah answer? “Until… I make peace with the whole weight thing.”
Earlier in the interview Opray stated she had no regrets in her life, but this one thing – her weight – is something she wants to “make peace with” before she dies.
I sat there watching this woman who has helped many, heard many, contributed to the success, and empowerment of many people especially women. She has known opportunity many of us will never know, living a lifestyle many could only dream about – and I thought to myself,
I was left wondering how you can live a life without regrets?
How you can go to your grave at peace with your life and the people in it?
How can a woman make peace with her body – in an image-obsessed culture – and raise young women who are content in their own skin?
How can I raise daughters who are at peace with themselves and at peace with the people around them?
How can I raise women who are fierce?
Negative Body Talk
It is the number one mantra I have heard from the women I have known – MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE: weight, weight loss, dieting, body dissatisfaction, what makes you beautiful, and body image.
I remember going into a plus size store with the plus-sized women in my family and how our antics of laughter mixed with uncomfortable, negative body talk made the sales woman who was trying to help us uncomfortable.
I watched her back away from us busying herself in another area of the store.
I understood that look on her face.
Because she was bigger than us – and if we have this to say about our own bodies – what must we think of hers?
Negative body talk doesn’t just harm the person speaking it harms the men and women and children listening.
There is this way we women talk about ourselves and about each other that is destructive.
I have spoken the harmful words and I have been on the receiving end of them. We all have that one woman in our lives who never stops nitpicking at your body or your life no matter what you look like or how you choose to live. She can’t stop. And at the end of the day you have to come to a place where you understand that all that nitpicking she does is because she is NOT comfortable or at peace with HERSELF. It really doesn’t have anything to do with you.
But it is hard to not be THAT woman. And it is hard to get over THAT woman’s words about your worth.
When You Are Raising Fierce Daughters
Now I am raising three daughters. They are slender and all the things our culture finds attractive in our young women. I was slender and tender once too. But these girls hit the genetic lottery of chaos and mayhem. The thyroid and autoimmune disorders have run a muck in our family so there is a really good chance no matter how much they exercise and no matter how healthy they eat, no matter how much they deprive or indulge – they will probably struggle with extra weight in all the right places.
How will the way I talk about my body now – and their bodies now – shape what they see in the mirror as they mature into womanly curves and wonderment?
- How can I teach them to fall in love with themselves – and all their body is and is not?
- How can I show them what it feels like after stretch marks, and babies, hormone changes, and fat, wrinkles, and sagging skin?
- How can I teach them the deepness of a woman – the beauty beneath the skin?
- How can I help them to understand the fullness of a woman found in curves not just thin waists, ample breasts, and a curvy booty?
- How can I show them that a muffin top, and a rounded stomach, a little extra junk in the trunk, and a full bosom are all beautiful parts of a whole?
- That they are not just the size of their ass or their bra size?
- That their worth will never be found at the end of a needle or scalpel?
- That the deepness of their soul matters more than tan lines and smooth legs?
That their value is so much more than what they cream, powder, fluff, and hide?
How can I teach them to embrace all that they have been given as women: the genetics, grandma’s double chin, grandpa’s nose, mom’s dimples, Aunt Myrtle’s wide-set eyes, and great grandma Lavender’s larger than normal ass; the history – women warriors who have gone before them, and that Divine Imprint of the Creator himself/herself on their souls?
How can I show them the value of women – that can never be found merely by how she looks, what she wears, or the number on a scale?
It Starts With Me?
Somewhere in all this I think it dawned on me that the negative self-talk is never going to help me or my girls develop a healthy view of our bodies.
Never will my words about my extra flesh – those self-deprecating ways we women have of mocking our insecurities – never will those words help our daughters to find a healthy way of seeing themselves.
We tell them they are beautiful no matter the packaging, but then we turn to our own bodies – the packaging they emerged from – and we mock and hide them, ridicule, deny, and shame them.
I don’t want my girls to wake up feeling that how they look matters more to me – then how they are with themselves and with the people around them.
I can raise the most physically beautiful girls in the world – and find myself staring at three of the ugliest, most self-centered, snobbish hearts I have ever met.
I want my girls to love fierce – themselves and those around them.
I think it starts by helping them to come to peace with their bodies no matter how they grow or what they look like.
It starts by teaching them HOW to love and care for themselves – and that loving and caring for themselves is OK and essential to all the other things that they will do as women.
Self-Care needs to come first. Self-love is never selfish or wrong or time ill-spent.
May they discover that the consistency of their hearts matters much more than the skin that hangs on those bones.
And that living a healthy life – means making peace within the skin you have been given and not shaping that form to meet an outside person’s expectations of what you should be and how you should look.
I want to raise daughters who can not be bought – by money, or material things, or extravagant ideas, or charming words – or a man/woman who compliments
judges her worth by her body, and in the process refuses to acknowledge the importance of her soul.
Because these girls we’ve been given – they are ALL soul.
And their bodies, hearts, and souls matter.
Questions From The Front Porch:
- Women how do you talk about your body? Your daughter’s body? The bodies of the women you encounter?
- Men how do you talk about women’s bodies? What are some affirming words you can speak over your wife, mother, daughters?
- How has negative self-talk or the words of others affected how you see yourself?
- What are words you would speak to a younger you about your body and what it will go through? What would that pep talk sound like?
- What are some choices you can make today to be healthier – in body and in mind – about your body?
- What are some affirming words you can speak over your daughters and the women around you about their form? about their hearts?
- In a culture obsessed with sex – how can we teach our daughters that they were made for more than a man’s fantasy? A man’s bed? How can we teach them that they are not what oogling eyes, and catcalling mouths say they are – that their worth is more than their breast size, and ass shape, and measurement of their waist – that they are uniquely created for an intentional purpose, a purpose that doesn’t have anything to do with being sexy or beautiful?
- How did the women in your family and life affirm your internal beauty? How did they help to shape HOW you see your external beauty? Where do you find your worth? How were you valued – for what you looked like, and what you made your family look like in the process OR because of WHO you are?
- Remember – you are loved. You have worth. Self-Care, self-love – these things are OK to pursue. Your heart matters.