I was having one of those days. You’re bloated, your legs look pale, you didn’t get enough sleep and every time you look in the mirror you want to scream.
We were out of town, getting dressed to meet family at the pool and the last thing I wanted to wear was a swimsuit. I tried on 3 different suits and (dramatically) threw one off after another. I yelled, “god I hate wearing a swimsuit, I don’t want to wear this!”
My 3-year-old daughter walked up to me, wide-eyed, and asked, “why don’t you want to wear a swimsuit mommy?”
My heart. I still cringe when I think of this scene. She was SO excited to swim. SO excited to wear her polka dot swimsuit and go to the pool. Who was I to rain on her parade?
We all have those days where we just don’t feel cute in whatever we wear. But to show that side to my daughter? To make her think that a swimsuit can make you feel unhappy? Literally rip my heart out because I never want to make her feel that way.
Raising girls is hard. I was raised by a mom who constantly counted calories and reminded us of it often. She ran to run off what she ate, and we were encouraged to do the same. And it wasn’t her fault - she was raised that way too. It’s a vicious cycle.
But why should this cycle continue? Why should my daughters feel the wrath and judgment of the generations before them? The answer is no one should. You should be defined by who you are not what you weigh or what you wear. You should have such high self-confidence that you dance with joy every time you put on a swimsuit, just like a toddler does.
But not everyone has that confidence or knows how to instill in in others. Take a look at our world: It appears more divided than it’s ever been. It often feels like we are moving backwards. Rights are being revoked, hatred is spread more than love; how do you raise a decent human in this context?
I remember being the only girl in my class who was not invited to a birthday party in middle school. The host of the party didn’t want me there because she had a crush on the same boy as me. I was devastated. I spent half the night crying in my room until my sisters walked in and built me back up again. They took me out and we made our own fun that night, helping me forget all about the party I missed. It was in that moment that I felt so lucky to have two people in my life that would always be there for me.
The truth is, it’s hard to see our bodies change as we get older and go through the different phases of life. But what you can’t see also changing are the relationships we’ve made along the way. We lose connection with people when they move or appear at a different stage of life than us. It’s sad but it happens. But what also happens along the way are the affirmation of those lifelong relationships - the solid foundation of your ride-or-dies. This foundation may be a sister, a neighbor, a coworker, a friend, or a parent. Whoever your ride-or-dies may be, you need these people in your life. You need these people in your children’s lives.
I’m so lucky to have sisters and to be raising sisters of my own. I am comforted by the fact that my daughters will always have each other. When one of them inevitably gets left out of some party or a big event, I know they will build each other up and come out stronger on the other side. They are each other’s ride-or-dies.
So next time you put on a swimsuit, think of your daughter. Think of how she twirls and grins while staring in the mirror wearing her new polka dot swimsuit. She is an image of confidence shaped by the women in her life. She is built up because of you.