This post is part of YummyMummyClub.ca‘s support of the Dove® Unstoppable Moms for Unstoppable Girls Contest. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors. Go to www.UnstoppableMoms.ca to enter by sharing how you inspire girls to reach their full potential.
I had a weird relationship with body image as a tween and teen. When I was 12, I started getting sick and eventually at 14 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s is a digestive disorder thought to be an autoimmune disorder too. I lost a lot of weight because I didn’t absorb a lot of the nutrition I was taking in. I was very often too skinny and I remember people questioning why I was so skinny. People didn’t understand Crohn’s well at all 20 years ago.
When I wasn’t sick, I had body image issues about being fat, which was absurd because I have never ever been overweight. I quit quite a few things over the years for various reasons. I didn’t like cheerleading, because I was uncoordinated and felt like I never fit in with that perky popular group. Body images and anxiety definitely didn’t help with swimming. The water scared me and being thrown in the deep end was not a good way for me to begin my lessons one summer. I was 14 before I learned to swim and missed out on a lot of summer activities because I was fearful of the water and nervous about my body.
For several years I danced – tap, jazz, baton. I loved dancing so much that one summer I saved all my babysitting money so I could pay for my own lessons. But then came a time, despite getting high honours on my dance exams, when I started feeling like I didn’t fit the dancer’s body or image I had in my head. That coincided with me growing hips, feeling strange in my body and also getting increasingly annoyed by my curly frizzy unmanageable hair. I felt ugly. I was super self-conscious in that bodysuit with the fringe attached, the one we used for dress rehearsal. People often made comments that reinforced my poor body image. “Oh you’ve got your Mom’s butt,” is a dumb thing to say to any 13-year-old girl. I found excuses not to go to things, or join sports. I was too slow to run. I quit dance and opted out of gym class often.
I was sensitive and reflective of other people’s opinions of me and my weight. I never saw beauty, or anything positive about my body or looks, until I was 19 at university and suddenly attractive to others. What a strange lot of time wasted.
In fact, 6 out of 10 girls will quit something they love because of body image. However, when girls have a role model at home they are less likely to feel anxiety over body image. Often that role model is Mom. I had a pretty unstoppable Mom and a pretty unstoppable Grandma before her, so I had some pretty great built in role models.
I am a Mom now to two brilliant and strong tweens. They are opinionated and smart and healthy and bright and most certainly not perfect. I am not perfect either. I make mistakes. I apologize. I love with heart wide open to beauty, sadness and heartbreak and I believe in my girls, unconditionally and forever. As a Mom, I believe it’s great to sometimes let girls choose non-traditional extra-curriculars. It’s important for girls to experience success, and sometimes a bit of failure too. We learn from mistakes, grow and move forward. Both successes and failures are necessary to help build resilient girls.
I take my kids where they need to go. My youngest girl needs swimming and horseback riding and martial arts. My oldest daughter is a gifted performer. She sings and dances and acts and does martial arts too. These things complete their day, add to their life experiences outside school and home and build positive body image. My girls are strong, smart, caring and beautiful. They are proud when they are recognized for doing something well.
My youngest girl Ainsley is now a junior black belt at just 9, despite and because of her special needs, and school struggles. She finds her groove and her strength in the dojo. It is spectacular to watch. My 11-year-old sings for crowds of people and breathes effortlessly when she is standing on a stage surrounded by artistic young people. She combats bullying and tween dramas and even the occasional assignment at school that she doesn’t enjoy, all by finding her passion and place in a space that embraces and celebrates her beautiful unstoppable personality.
I believe it’s so vital to enjoy your daughters when they are young and see where their strengths and passions lie, then follow them there. When children are tiny and finding their boundaries outside of you, they are often unstoppable. School and peers sometimes squeeze that effervescent energy into something different.
I am a Mom who never gives up or stops. I am passionate about children and families and building families. I advocate, support, and lift others up when they need a hand. I try to show my kids to be strong and passionate and fight for what’s right in the world. I use my voice. I carry compassion in my heart and tolerance close by. That’s how I try to show them I am unstoppable.
My girls rarely quit things. Payton has been in her acting group now from the age of seven when a camp counselor noticed her energy, enthusiasm and voice. Ainsley has been swimming from the time she was 3 and doing martial arts from the age of four. They might occasionally take breaks to rediscover their excitement for an activity, but they don’t quit or stop. In Jamaica one year when we visited all the local people nicknamed my girl Fish. I think they are well on their way to being unstoppable too.
Are you an unstoppable mom? Share YOUR story about a time when you thought about quitting an activity you loved because of how you felt about your body and let them know how you think moms/role models can better support girls to participate in activities. You have until June 13, 2013 to enter. You could win $2,500 for yourself and $2,500 will be donated to help raise a girl’s self-esteem.
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