Who Else Wants To Raise Body Positive Girls

The body positive movement has brought much to my life.

Most recently, body positivity framed a healthy body image talk with my daughter

about clothing size.

When it comes to body image, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in raising my girls. I diet. I look away from mirrors. I retake selfies. But this weekend, as our family was doing all of the last minute back-to-school things I swore we wouldn’t put off—organizing rooms, filling out calendars, buying forgotten items—something went right and I want to tell you about it. It happened more than once in one day and what struck me about the conversations that we had wasn’t that we had them, but how natural they were and the reactions they incited.

Clothes shopping doesn’t hold a warm place in my heart. Years of disagreeing with my mom in small, hot dressing rooms, ill-fitting outfits, and unforgiving mirrors incite a cringe-response in me upon dressing room entrance. So even though I love putting together looks, mixing and matching basics, trying out accessories, the actual act of trying on clothes makes me uncomfortable. My girls are different. They love having their own dressing rooms, stepping out to show me what they like, and to tell me what they don’t like.

Yesterday while we were shopping, one of my girls noticed that her clothing size was different than she had expected it to be. When she came out of the dressing room tugging at a too-tight sleeve, she looked uncomfortable. “It doesn’t fit.” she said, without any of the baggage that I hold, but with confusion. “We need to go a size up for that shirt,” was my response. She insisted she was last year’s size, with a stubbornness that matches my own, which incidentally will make her an amazing adult, but is sometimes tricky to parent.

It’s what happened next that I’m really proud of.

“It’s not about the size,” was my answer. “It’s about the fit.” She relaxed into my comment and asked me to go get her a new size, over her shoulder, newly cut hair swinging as she turned back to her dressing room. A clerk working close enough to hear us met my eye and said, “I wish someone had told me that at that age,” as she took the shirt out of my hand and went to find the size we needed. This girl was tall and willowy in a way that I can’t relate to; a perfect reminder that the way the American sizing system works doesn’t do any of us any favors.

On our way home, we were talking about the shop—what everybody got, what everyone still needed. My daughter brought up her size change again, which gave me pause. I looked into her eyes through the rearview mirror, wondering what I’d find there. As far as I could tell, the conversation was still baggage-free (although we never really know, do we?) and I told her what I now know to be true.

The way clothes are made varies from store to store, brand to brand, item to item. They’re not standard, so we can’t assign ourselves a size or get attached to it; it means nothing beyond that one outfit.

As I said those words out loud, I took in how very true they are and how very hard I’ve had to work to understand them.

It’s about the fit, not the size.

It’s about the clothing industry, not us.

It’s about how an outfit makes us feel, not what number is on its tag.

I recently did an exercise where I was searching for words to describe myself. It took me a long time to do this, but as I was rolling through my MindRolodex trying to distill the ways I define myself, something really interesting happened. Not a single word that came to mind was about my size or my body; I’ve ceased to define myself in this way and, you should know, that this is a shift.

There are so many numbers that matter to me—three children, 13 years of marriage, one book; but my dress size (now) truly means “nothing beyond that one outfit.” May my girls know this instinctually and in a non-hard earned way.

May we all define ourselves only by numbers and words that truly matter.

body positive movement

As our kids are heading back to school, there are so many influences that will be coming their way. What we start with at home is the base and framework that they will use to take in all of that input. What we can teach them is how to react to what comes their way and what it all truly means to and about them, and what it doesn’t. For some wonderful input, I highly recommend:

Rachel Stafford has written an amazing new book, Hands Free Life, reflecting on nine habits for overcoming distraction, living better, and loving more. It’s every bit as inspiring as her first book and site by the same name, Hands Free Mama. I’ve found every single word to be a gem to take in and to use as a guiding light. It’s truly a breath of fresh air.

Nanea Hoffman’s site Sweatpants & Coffee is filled with authentic slices of the author’s heart and mind. She’s created a recognizable  set of iconic quote images that, while centered on a love of coffee that I wholeheartedly relate to, are truly filled with words of wisdom that I love for me and for passing onto others.

My friend Leslie Lagerstrom shared this article with me, Raising girls who are “includers” instead of “mean girls.First of all, I am so awestruck that this life that I live and the people I choose to live it with includes people sending me stories of kindness and goodness and change-making. And second of all, I found this article to be especially stick-to-my-ribs good because it served as a reminder to teach our kids how to react to their world, but also how to change it.

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  1. Bravo and amen. The sentence that stays with me in this wonderful retelling is “she relaxed into my comment.” It reminds me that in so many ways we define the context, what they assume is normal, and can be their weather, in a way. xox

  2. My daughter is 16 and I consider it a small miracle that she is comfortable with her body.
    I can think of few things more important to her long-term self esteem and so few women are lucky enough to feel that way.

    She is not even five feet tall (fully grown) and had a tough time when she first developed (feeling like people would stare) so it hasn’t all been roses; but now, three years into high school, she looks around and is content with who she is inside and out.

    A miracle. I do not take that for granted for one minute.

    Your girls (children!) are so so so lucky to have you for their mother; mindful, intentional, always always always trying.

  3. I’m keeping this one in my toolbox, Galit. Thank you. It’s not about the size. It’s about the fit.

  4. Thank you for this insightful, healing, and powerful post! As someone who fixates too much on size/number, I am taking your words to heart and praying that I can make the shift that you have. It is very inspiring & critically important.

    I am also grateful for your beautifully supportive words about my book, HANDS FREE LIFE. Because I think so highly of you as a writer and human being, your support is a true gift. I hope we can meet in person someday. I would love to give you a hug and tell you personally how grateful I am that you are on this earth.

  5. I am just seeing this lovely post! Thank you so much for including me in your post! This line: ” I found this article to be especially stick-to-my-ribs good because it served as a reminder to teach our kids how to react to their world, but also how to change it.: — so made me smile. I am so glad that something I wrote touched you and is something you are carrying with you.

    I so support you and resonate with the ‘size and number’ fixation in our culture! Ugh! You have really made an empowering shift! So many need to hear this message. Such obsession is “in the water.” Keep sharing your inspiring way of EMBODYING transformation!