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Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it…

October 6, 2011

It’s crazy how insidious body shaming — hell, ANY self-shaming — can be. How it creeps into your lexicon, worms its way into your constant thoughts. The commercials telling you that you aren’t good enough until Jenny Craig changes your life. It’s starting to hit our kids younger and younger. Hell, my DAUGHTER (age 8 and in the gifted program) came home crying because she is fat lazy and stupid… all because she failed one spelling test.

Luckily, I was watching some old Saturday Night Live at the time. Remember this guy? Stuart Smalley?

Well, he gave me a really good idea that I actually used to do in eating disorder therapy back in college. The basic gist is that you stare into a mirror and say good things about yourself, while looking lovingly into your own eyes.

This whole “I’m fat, I’m stupid” thing has been an ongoing issue with our youngest and I was struck with a great “punishment” for all this self-hatred. Sure, it sounds corny and new age-y, but for those still struggling with body issues I DARE you to really do this exercise and NOT tear up at the end of it.

What better way to combat every negative thing you say about yourself with not one, not two, but ten positive things about yourself, while looking in a mirror no less. At first she HATED it… as in punching-my-chest-with-her-not-so-tiny-anymore-fists hatred.

For every body snark line, she had to say ten positive ones. For every “I’m fat and ugly,” there were ten “I have great hair”s or “I have pretty eyes.” For every “I’m stupid” there were ten “I’m brilliant”s  or “I’m a great artist”s.    It really seems to be working. I can see her stand straighter, smile more freely.

And now? The body snark? Nearly gone after two weeks of “to the mirror.” It’s amazing how the bully in all of us can evaporate when faced with the honest truth. So, what will you tell yourself in the mirror?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 12:39 pm

    This is awesome and I will tuck this away in my mind for future possible use if either of our daughters begins to engage in self-hatred. I’m glad it is working for your daughter.

    One question: do you think that she has simply stopped commenting on her body in front of you or do you think this has really eradicated some of her self-loathing?


    • Karen permalink
      October 6, 2011 4:35 pm

      why not start now? before any issues? I’m sure there’s dozens of great things your daughters could say about themselves – or maybe about each other!

      • October 7, 2011 9:36 am

        You’re right, Karen. I saw your comment last night and asked my girls what they liked about themselves. Lottie said she likes to play and Linny was too crabby to answer. We’ll try again another day. 🙂


  2. Lain permalink
    October 6, 2011 12:51 pm

    Great idea! I need to not only try this with my daughter, but with myself as well. Well done!

  3. October 7, 2011 5:01 pm

    It was really really hard for me to start loving myself until I started standing in the mirror.

    I started clothed, alone, with soothing music on and said things I had no doubt were good about me. “I’m smart. I have nice hair. I’m kind.”

    Slowly I would mention my body. “My lips are pretty,” which I believed. And “My tummy’s not that bad.”

    After a while, I was standing in front of the mirror nude after my shower and saying “My stomach’s beautiful. Look how it curves and how soft it is. My cheeks are puffy and make my eyes squint when I smile and that’s beautiful because it’s a part of my Native American heritage. My dimply thighs are cute.”

    And I still do that when I need a boost. It changed my life.

  4. MrsS permalink
    October 8, 2011 12:34 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, you have discussed your daughter’s body issues previously, Erylin. I applaud you for trying this exercise instead of just giving her a pep talk. You didn’t ask for advice, so I hope that you don’t mind my giving a couple of suggestions. Have you enrolled your daughter in some type of activity that would boost her self-confidence? I don’t mean team sports.It could be physical activity that focuses on the individual, if there’s such a thing as child yoga, or something that emphasizes a talent, such as a weekly art lesson. So, there I go trying to fix things. There are times when I just want a friend to listen and times when I need advice. I hope that I haven’t offended you.

    • October 8, 2011 6:10 pm

      our oldest takes karate and piano. our youngest takes acting or art lessons (depending on what is available at the time, they change every semester) and violin lessons. and no offence taken at all.

  5. October 11, 2011 12:10 pm

    That sounds just like something I would have said about myself at a young age. Probably not at eight because I didn’t yet have it drilled into me at that age that fat = bad. At that age I just thought that fat = a person who really, really likes to eat and maybe not the best foods, but they aren’t bad. But certainly by eleven or twelve it had been drilled into my head that fat = ugly, bad, and stupid, and I had started berating myself using it as an insult.

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