So I overheard one of my daughters talking to her friends the other day.
I wasn’t eavesdropping…okay, I was. But that’s what good parents do, right?
Anyway, one of the girls said something like, “I think we should love ourselves the way we are. It shouldn’t matter what other people think.”
I thought, “Okay, I can get on board with that”. Apparently the other girls agreed because they started giving examples. One of them then said, “Yeah, like it shouldn’t matter what I weigh.” Again, I agree.
She continued, “I should be able to eat whatever I want!”
Yeah, I agr…wait, what?!
My daughter chimed in, “Yeah! I love food. I love eating. I shouldn’t feel bad about what I eat!”
Warning bells were sounding in my head. This conversation was getting convoluted real fast! I didn’t want them to know that I had been eavesdropping, but I had to stop this twisted, tween logic. I sliced some fruit and veggies with carmel dip and ranch and told them to come into the kitchen for a snack. It worked. They cheered and joined me and my wife for some healthy snacks where we could change
Fast forward a couple hours. All my daughter’s friends had gone home and we had a chance to sit down. I mentioned I had heard their conversation and wanted to ask her a couple questions. Fortunately we have a good relationship so we can and often do have great conversations.
I asked her what she thought “loving herself” really meant. She said, “It means accepting myself exactly the way I am. I should be okay with the way I am.” I told her I agreed but wanted her to consider some things. And I offer them for your consideration:
- Are there some things about ourselves that we shouldn’t be okay with? Don’t get me wrong…I think a health dose of self-esteem is necessary, but ignoring bad habits is just idiotic. Take weight as an example. I think we should absolutely love our bodies. They are beautiful no matter their shape, color, or height. But does that mean I should be able to eat whatever I want? My eating habits aren’t just about my weight, they’re about my health. Should I be okay with my decisions leading to diabetes, heart disease, or dangerously high cholesterol? So, I ask again, are there some things about myself that I shouldn’t be okay with?
- How much of what I’m told to love about myself is just social conditioning? This may not make much sense, but consider the “Truth about Tobacco” campaign. It’s pretty easy to see how the tobacco industry had for years conditioned us to see that there was nothing wrong with tobacco use. Just because the world said it was okay didn’t make it the truth.
- Are you really okay with the way you are? This one can get sticky, but let me illustrate with the example I used with my daughter. I asked her, “Are you okay with the fact that you can’t drive? Are you okay with the fact that you have no money? Are you okay that you don’t have a cell phone? Are you okay with your current curfew?” Her answer was obviously no. I tried to make the comparison then that because she wants to be better, to be more than she is right now, that maybe there are some things that it’s okay to not be okay with about herself. AGAIN, not in a degrading way, but in a “I’m-here-to-do-something-more-with-my-life” kind of way.
Well, take it for what it’s worth. But I guess for me the lesson is this:
Loving Yourself doesn’t mean you’ve “arrived”. You can love yourself and love to improve too.