I have lost track of how many times I have warmed up my Mayan Mocha, and I think that if someone else asks me for a snack, I might lose it. I have finally found just enough time to sit and reflect on something that’s been replaying in my mind. Last week, at the Girls Inc. Women of Inspiration event, local business owner and inspirational speaker Jenny Schatzle talked about changing the conversation. She talks about changing the conversation around different topics, but today I want to focus on body image and negative self-talk.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” From personal experience, words have hurt me and have left open wounds that have taken years and a lot of therapy to heal.
Growing up, my family called me “flaca” (skinny girl). I was OK being “flaca” until I physically wasn’t anymore. I’m sure my parents had no ill intention when giving me that nickname; after all, I had a slender frame, but later that term became a standard I had to maintain. When I entered high school, I joined sports; I became disciplined about my workouts and the foods I ate. The summer before senior year, I traveled to Mexico and indulged in all of the delicious foods. Of course, I was on vacation, so you bet I was not running 3-4 miles a day and doing drills. When I came back for volleyball tryouts, my coach commented about my weight gain and it sent me spiraling. I remember thinking, I have to be skinny again! I was no longer “flaca.” That comment led to a very unhealthy relationship with food and a struggle to accept my body. As a Latina, and maybe they do this in other cultures as well, I grew up hearing nicknames like “gorda” (fat girl), chaparro (shorty) and of course “flaca” (skinny girl). All of these are terms of endearment, but after hearing them so often, they become a part of our internal dialogue.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve become hyperaware of what I say around my two boys, especially about my body and the comments I make about them or people’s bodies and appearance. I still struggle with my relationship with food and how my body looks, but it’s a challenge I’m working on overcoming. It is to do so when I acknowledge that this body gave birth to two amazing and healthy baby boys.
Join me, and Jenny Schatzle, in changing the conversation for our children and ourselves. Remember that our kids are watching what we do and, most importantly, listening to what we say. I could go on and on about this topic because I find it so important, but I’ll stop here before my coffee gets cold… again! Today love your entire self, let that negative self-talk go and remind your children how much you love every inch of them.