House Rule: In These Bodies We Dance

by Brittany on December 16, 2013

in Chubby Girl, Parenting

How do I teach my daughter to love her body?

Good question, I don’t know. It’s actually terrifying. I have no experience liking my body before age 29. I failed in elementary school. I bombed in high school. College was a blurry mess. I can’t sit here and pretend to have any idea how to make sure a young person today could possibly navigate the social media world we live in without constantly being bullied to the edge… and then pushed over.

Sometimes when Gigi is sleeping, I’ll look at her pink cheeks and her scuffed knees and think, I made those with my body. Every piece of her; I’m like a sorceress. I’d be crushed if she hated one bit of herself.

So, what do I do to help her love her body besides smash the televisions, pull her out of school and then wait until she’s asleep to sit in the bathtub crying and breathing slowly into a paper bag?

The last thing I tell her everyday is that she’s beautiful. After I tell her she’s brilliant, hilarious, curious, creative and daring.

We wear lipstick when it rains. Injecting a moment of charm into something dreary makes us happy, and that’s an empowering thing. We own our happy moments, we don’t need to wait for others to create them for us.

I walk around naked. Eventually this will be super creepy. But right now, I’m helping build the normality of what she sees.

I tell her she is deserving, no matter what. Of friends, family, love, opportunity and life. None of that will ever hinge on her body.

We have love affairs with women. It’s not seedy or inappropriate, it’s inspiring and mentally empowering. Big women, small women, the women who change the world, we pour over their beautiful minds and bodies.

I let her love food. Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, Italian, even Vegan, she experiences it all. Early on, food became an enemy, and I spent two decades fighting against the very thing I secretly loved. I won’t allow her that abusive relationship.

I walk every day in her shoes. She doesn’t see me when I pose, or hold my arms just so. She sees me when I belly laugh, or tell a story with my hands. She sees me when I sing uninhibited in the car or shave my legs in the sink before date night. She sees me shrug off a compliment or break down beneath an insult.

But more importantly she sees me stand back up and she sees me dance.

At Dawn We Dance

How do I teach my daughter to love her body? By the loving the hell out of mine.


Debra Diaz December 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

You are amazing…..and thank you, I live this every day….and love my body for what it has created, life…I’ll never forget what it can do and be grateful for it!

Amanda December 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Good God, I love you so much.

Jasi December 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Very cool. We do dancing, we do admiring and we do no nudity shame too. We don’t spend the day naked but if I’m taking a shower and I forgot a towel, I don’t hide or freak out, I just go to the linen closet and whatever! I think it’s important for girls and boys also to know that naked doesn’t equal sex or bad. It means no damn clothes on, are you cold?

Julia H. December 16, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I truly hope to someday be even a tiny bit as good of a mother as you are. Huge internet high five from me. You’re an inspiration.

Laura December 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I adore this blog. And I adore the idea behind the photo. Keep it up!

amber December 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Girl, I’ve been following you for 3 years now, and this is the one that made me cry

Katie December 16, 2013 at 10:41 pm

a great way to look at raising kids with positive self image……still need to learn to love my body and sooo don’t want to pass that on to my kid

Life, Unedited. December 16, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I don’t have kids, but when I do,I aim to be as good a mother as you! I am yet to come to terms with my body, but hopefully, one day!

Kristin December 17, 2013 at 12:06 am

Just when I think I can’t possibly love you any more than I already do, you go and write this. Beautiful post! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jodi December 17, 2013 at 12:50 am

You go girl! You’re teaching that baby right! I’m bumping 50 (in June) and I’m still trying to learn – but never EVER taught mine that she had a single thing to worry about.

Marissa Huntley December 17, 2013 at 9:05 am

Brittany, Loved this post! I could learn a thing or two from you! Love my body no matter what = I give myself unconditional love…why not? I give that kind of love to my husband and my son – why not us too!!!
You rock!

I taped the Victoria Secret Fashion show and as I watched it I was thinking these are some beautiful women and then I started comparing myself to them…huh! no comparison! But then I realized – these women do not represent the REAL women of the world! Just a small fraction. We need more women like you and me to be our girls’ role models. Bravo Brittany!

Lindsay Landgraf Hess December 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

This is amazing. YOU are amazing.

Patricia December 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and this one got me all choked up.

What’s the greatest gift you could give your daughter? The confidence and self love that you have been able to find, yet most of us have yet to find.

You bring so much positivity to the world, and to pass it on to your daughter in such an amazing way, it totally ROCKS!!! :) YOU ROCK!!!

Wendy Russ December 17, 2013 at 10:43 am

Love it. Keep on keepin’ on!

Jamie December 17, 2013 at 11:50 am

The last line of this post – seriously gave me chills…. so very wise and powerful…. you rock!

Julia Perrodin-Dunning December 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I have a girl crush on you. You are brilliant and altogether lovely. Carry on.

Lauren December 17, 2013 at 4:31 pm

As someone who struggles with my own body image and who also has a daughter, I do many of the same things you described – but I don’t practice what I preach! I feel like such a damn hypocrite, but I feel like it is so incredibly necessary for her to hear the things I wish I could say to myself..

*I tell her all the time that she’s beautiful. I never heard that growing up, I always heard that I was fat. If someone said I was beautiful, I’d think “no I’m not, I’m fat!”
*I also walk around naked in front of her and I do not let it bother me when I see her looking. I don’t want, but NEED her to know that not everyone looks like a Disney Princess. It’s okay for her mother to be big and it’s okay for her to love her big mother, or any other big person for that matter. Love is not reserved for people with movie star physiques.
*I never shame my body in front of her. I don’t want her picking up on that.
*Food is a fight she already has. I explain that food is life (because really, it is. Your body can’t function without it). Do you want your life to be ONLY Macaroni and Cheese, or do you want your food choices to be as exciting and adventurous as your life choices? Apparently she does not. That bums me out.

I still am trying to learn your secret, though. I really want to love my body as much as I pretend to in front of my little girl…

Theresa December 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I’m having a love affair with you :) in a completely non-seedy way! Thank you for being such an excellent role model for both women and girls.

Katie December 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm

What a gorgeous photo of the two of you :) a thoughtful and beautiful post, thank you for brightening my day even more…I will be sharing this!

Jacky December 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Your Amazing!

Amanda December 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Just when I think that there is no way you could be any more awesome than you are, you go and do something like this. This was passed around my office today through email, IM, and facebook. You have some serious fans in Portland, Oregon.

I wish that more people ended with telling their daughters that they’re beautiful, rather than beginning with it. It took me nearly 30 years to realize that a) I am beautiful and b) the fact that my beauty is not represented in the media does not mean that my other traits are somehow devalued.

Keep singing it, girl. Scream it from the rooftops.

Kathy December 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I don’t know why, but this truly brought tears to my eyes. You are amazing!

Jules December 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Hooray! This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

Diana December 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Brittany, this is so beautiful. I hope to be like you when I am a mom. I’m so happy you wrote it.

Heidi December 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

You are fabulous and brilliant. Thank you for this. I worry about this every day. But, I’ve decided, like you have, that the best way to teach my daughter to love her body is to love my own. It’s been difficult, but I hope it works!

Heidi December 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Also? You are beautiful.

Cass December 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm

This post is so needed. So many of us are ashamed of what we see in the mirror. Your courage is inspiring, and the picture is the perfect end to your post. Thank you for sharing.

Ika December 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Lovely said, Brit.

J- December 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Right on! My mom use to walk from bathroom to bedroom naked and it helped me as I grew to become more comfortable with myself. YOU ROCK!

chickensconsigliere December 21, 2013 at 12:44 am

Love this.

Amanda December 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

This post stayed with me and got me to stare down some of my own demons.

You probably know this already, but you really do inspire people every day. Thank you.

Next time you are in NYC you should detour to the ‘Daks. Our families could hang out. Gentz can tell you we’re a good time.

Carol December 22, 2013 at 1:37 am

You are an awesome mother and person. Not only are you setting a wonderful example for your daughter but for your sons. Teaching your daughter to be herself and love who that is is beyond wise. Your sons will also grow up realizing there is more to women than their physical appearance, that every person is different and unique.

My family has never said I was pretty. In fact, I have been told (as recently as this past year) many times at family functions – every family has a fat person, that’s you. My grandmother has always told me I should stop eating. She even has told me anorexia can be healthy because at least you will get skinny. I have never been asked if I am dating anyone because (again, I have been told this directly to my face) ‘who would want to date me’. I have always heard the back-handed insult of ‘you are looking better, have you lost weight?’

As harsh as this was & is, the most damage has been done by my mom teaching me that I am not lovable. Or worthy of someone’s love. She has done this from the very beginning, it is in some of my earliest memories. She still does it to this day (30+ years later). I wish I could say that even with realizing this imprint from her onto me is more to deal with her problems & issues, but no. Since was in middle school I have know that I would never get married. I would love to get married, have kids, etc one day. But there is this voice in my head that tells me ‘who would ever want to spend time with you?’

So besides continuing to teach your kids that they are beautiful, teach them that they are lovable. They are worthy of love. They are deserving of love.

Ellen December 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Dancing around has become my new cardio. It’s impossible to dance without laughing your ass off. Cheers to your matching leopard and bravery!

Janine December 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I like you! lol

You know I don’t have little girls – but I do have little boys. I think it’s important for them to learn those lessons too… of being comfortable in their own skin and also seeing me be comfortable in mine. All to often we forget how important it is for us to show and teach our young men how to love and respect women, inside and out.

When I had my youngest (who is now 2) my oldest was 6. My husband was shocked to come home and see me sitting in the living room holding the baby and having my breasts out for the world to see. Yes my son saw them. I breast fed the baby and I homeschooled. As my husband says – I got all National Geographic on them.

We have to use every chance and opportunity we have to show our little ones the things that are important to shaping them into good people who love themselves so they can love others.

Do your thing girl!!

Kathy December 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

Love everything about this : ) as I get older I learn to love my body more and appreciate and be blown away by the things it can do. Thanks for sharing!!

Meg December 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm

This is awesome and so important. I’ve worried about the same thing… and then I stopped worrying. My daughter doesn’t like food. Getting her to eat anything is a huge PITA and she “works out” all the time. Like hangs off the furniture in such a way that works her abs and arms and she does it for hours. She has a six pack. She’s three. Oh and has beautiful curly hair, like yours, and she’s tall. Honestly, being around my daughter gives ME body image issues. I am short and chunky.

Nevertheless, I tell her every time I get a chance how beautiful she is and how smart and awesome. She’s fun and sweet and silly and I just hope she knows it.

Brittany, you get a parenting high five. I am certain that you are and will continue to be such an inspiration to Gigi, just as you are to so many women. You rock.

Victoria M December 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I’m due with my first child, a girl, in March and this right here is everything I needed to read today. Pregnancy has made me hate my body again after just learning to love it, but I have to be strong and love me so Violet can love herself. I will not have her following in the footsteps of my mother and myself. I will show her that she is beautiful inside and out from her very first breath onward.
Thank you Brittany.

Lauryn January 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I’m happy to see someone does the same things with their daughter as me! I’m a curvy girl, always have been, and while my daughter is only 7, self-esteem has to be weaved in young. My mother always had self-esteem issues and that rubbed off on me. I didn’t start to love myself until I had my daughter and realized how amazing my body is to have given life. Now I really drill self-esteem in my baby. It’s one of the most important lessons mothers can teach their daughters for sure.

Gina at CampClem January 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Yes. Perfection.

Heather January 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm

I love everything about this. I worry so much about my kids going through the same crappy body image/eating disorder shit I did, but truly the best thing I can do is be an example of a strong, secure woman who loves herself. Thank you for reminding me. I have been following your blog for a while and I love your wit and humor and honesty. You are one of my favorites.

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