A couple of weeks ago, I surprised Louise with a pair of matching mother/daughter swimsuits in preparation for our upcoming Spring Break vacay. She tore open the package, eyes wide with delight over the sassy leopard print- she couldn’t throw hers on fast enough. I was less enthusiastic but I wasn’t about to rain on her parade, so we stood in front of the mirror together- me ensuring a decently “flattering” fit, Louise posing with pride. She gasped in admiration of us both and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, we HAVE to take a picture!”
Skeeer, wait whaaaa. A try-on sesh with my six year old was one thing, photographic documentation was another. I subconsciously started to respond with “Mommy doesn’t take bathing suit pictures, but I’ll snap some of you” but the part of me who would do anything to bolster her confident spirit knew better and outwardly over-ruled with an Oscar-worthy “YES! You’re so right!”
She showed me how to perfect her signature knee-bent pose and directed the shoot with “Ok, the side, good and now the back-look at my criss-cross straps!” Oh hell, the back too? I thought. “Absolutely, we’ve got to get the back too!” I said. I don’t know if she was actually testing me or not, but I swear it seemed as if she sensed my initial hesitation and waited desperately hoping I could confirm her idea that we can be just as proud of our bodies in our swimwear as we are in our streetwear.
I was 100% faking it, hoping to pass the test for her sake, but as it so often goes my attempts at salvaging her self-assurance might have actually helped me see things differently, as well. When I looked at the pictures later I pushed past my typical inclination to pick apart every inch of myself and they made me so happy for the moment they captured - I bet she wont always be so excited to match with her mama and I even felt some genuine pride for the mom body depicted. I wonder why it’s so easy to tear down the very vessel that brought my amazing girl and her brother into this world.
As we spent time together on the beach last week, I noticed I was less self-conscious when strangers passed and sometimes made myself deny the urge to reach for my wrap when I got up from my chair knowing she was watching. It felt surprisingly freeing and I hoped seeing me carry on without overthinking the amount of skin I was showing would help her hang on to the freedom she feels at this age- to run and play and pose her dimpled little legs with wild abandon in the outfits that make her feel most like herself, bathing suits included.
She is so proud of her body and in my efforts to make that assuredness last, she’s teaching me that maybe it’s time I learn to be proud of mine, too.
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