“I’m fat” and other things my daughter has heard me say


“Beautiful faces are those that wear, the light of a pleasant spirit there; beautiful hands are those that do, deeds that are noble, good, and true; beautiful feet are those that go, swiftly to ease another’s woe.” -Unknown

I am quick to blame the media and culture for the damage done to girls when it comes to their feelings of self-worth. The media is saturated with foolish ideals and hollow worth, and I think I’m better.

But then I hear myself say to my husband, “Ug, I feel fat, I need to lose some weight.” Or “There is no hope for my face, I feel so ugly.” I throw out those careless words and then look over and see my six-year-old daughter coloring near by, quiet, taking in my words. And it hits me.

I am the media.

I am the culture.

I am the one showing her that worth is in a face or the body. I tell her that her worth comes from within, and that God sees the heart, but then I make off-the-cusp remarks about how “I feel” so fat. The truth (the truth!) is that I’m healthy and have an amazing body created by God to walk and dance and house a heart and soul and lifeblood. I have these fingers that type quickly, and toes that keep me balanced, and a mind that is wonderful because of His design.

And so do my daughters. My beautiful, artistic, brilliant, poetic daughters.

I have got to learn to gate my mouth when I want to spew out the venom of self-loathing. I must instead choose to praise God for how I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I want to care for this mind and this body that God has given me, and I will show my daughters to do the same.

Are you with me?

How do you teach your children about their self-worth?

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  • http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

    Oh how needed this post is….
    I taught high school and saw/heard the words of so many–
    young-girls-looking-for-affirmation.
    It broke my heart and make me so cautious with what I communicate in front of our girls.
    And yes–
    It’s still a struggle.

  • CouponDivaAndi

    i’m with you for sure……. :D

  • http://www.phuketfamily.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth

    Love your honesty!! I too say things in front of my daughter that I later regret. I’m working on changing my habits and limiting media.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666555285 Elisa Pulliam

    Yes, I am with you. 

    This is what the Redefining Beauty movement at http://www.MoretoBe.com is  all about and exactly what I’ve shared in my next week’s guest post at MODsqaud.

    We must consider the greatest influences on our daughters (and sons) and choose to move ourselves into positions of becoming their greatest influence for God’s glory.

    • karaliechty

      Elisa!  I can’t wait to check out that site!!!  Such a thing is WAYYY  overdue!  Thanks for sharing!

  • HopeUnbroken

    yes, yes, and yes!  having three girls has “gated” my mouth more than anything else over the years.  realizing that they are taking in everything that i say and hiding it in their hearts.  convicting, truly.  we talk a lot about self-image as seen through God’s eyes.  and heart-image right along with it.
    the culture will always be hard to negate, but it has to start in our homes.
    great post!
    steph 

  • http://memyselfandmercy.blogspot.com/ Mary Bonner

    I am with you!  Although my only child is 24 I still need to watch what I say.  You are right…we ARE the media.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    Sarah Mae — there is a reason we work SO well together, my dear!!! http://joyfulmothering.net/2012/03/01/god-designed-you-to-be-you/

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Yes! That was a beautiful post!

  • http://www.eileenknowles.com/ Eileen

    I’ve had to learn this as well.  My son is a little sponge. He hears and remembers everything.  I’ve often made the mistake of telling him that I  am not good at this or that or I can’t do this or that.  I am much more careful to not say this so easily.  I don’t want him being fearful of trying or failing.

  • http://psalm23five.blogspot.com/ Nicole Anderson

    I think this is an incredible article and a great reminder for us moms!  It is SO true that how we value ourselves (or at least how we try to portray how we value ourselves) is what helps our daughters to learn how to value theirselves!  I don’t know how many times as a young teen that I heard my SKINNY mom say she needed to diet.  I was the chunkiest one in my family (and still tiny).  I always thought, “well, then I DEFINITELY need to me on a diet!”  I lost 20 lbs the summer between sophomore and junior year that I didn’t need to lose.  This is such a great reminder.  Thank you!

  • http://www.joyfilleddays.com/ Sarah Beals

    We are the media. Yes. I have often thought that in homeschooling situations, we are also the “friends” too–and when mama is distracted and doesn’t want to look that kiddo in the eye and hear what they have to say, what message does that send to that little one?

    • http://crystalbrothers.wordpress.com/ Crystal Brothers

      Yes!  This is a big thing to me, and one we try REALLY hard not to do in our house…it is so important to value your children!  We still live in a “get out of my face” kind of society, where children are told to just “go play” and not bother parents.  It’s so sad!  I personally think that plays a HUGE role in the state of things, and I think it’s more important in overall behavior and discipline than anything else…simply paying attention to our children, showing them they have value and spending time with them.

  • Fragrantroses

    Such an important topic!  At age 4, my niece terrorized women in Walmart.  She pointed people out and called out to them, “you’re fat!  Use self control”  or “You need to lose weight, you look you ate someone.”  It was humiliating to be around her (as an overweight woman).  My sil was constantly apologizing to strangers.  She told us she didn’t know why the child said these things because she never talked bad about someone’s size.  We all cracked up laughing and got up to demonstrate HER behaviors…”does this make my butt look big?”  “Does my muffin top show?”  “I’m so stuffed I should have used self control and I feel sick.”  My niece got these messages from her mom and thought she should share with the world.  Everyone knows a 4 year old has NO filters!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000106545800 Heather Mahon Estey

    oh SO true! I am blessed with three beautiful daughters, and my oldest is 12 and just starting to struggle with some of these things. I had an eating disorder in my teens….I have prayed since the day she was born she would not go down that path……….

  • http://www.italianlane.com/ Michelle

    I love this, Sarah Mae!  While I don’t have kids of my own, I have found myself catching my words while talking around my nieces.  While I have much to work on when it comes to my self-worth, I want to exude a self-confidence in the way the Lord has made me.  I’m also looking forward to any times that I have a chance to talk with my nieces about the way I feel about my body – and about the difference between the way I see myself and the way the Lord views me.  

  • Kim

    This is a really timely post! I am in the process of losing weight due to health reasons, and I have 5 girls ages 10 and under (and 2 teen sons). I try to make a point to tell the girls that mommy is losing weight to get healthy so she can do more things for the family. It is a struggle, though, to not show my pleasure in the fact that I’m looking better too. I have held on to 30 extra pounds from my last three babies. This is a good reminder to watch my tongue, and my actions!

  • http://mkjorgenson.blogspot.com/ MK Jorgenson

    For some reason, ever since my daughter (now 20 months old) was born, I knew I had to be careful of.  But when she’s in bed, I still seem to think I can say these sorts of things to my husband…because obviously they have to be said somewhere.  The world must somehow know that I feel fat or ugly or whatever…right?

    But my husband is so hurt by these words, that I would–even offhand–cut down his choice?  Say that the woman he waited and waited for is somehow less than?

    Our girls need to be guarded from these words…but I think our husbands deserve better from us, too.

    • http://crystalbrothers.wordpress.com/ Crystal Brothers

      This is so true.  I never really thought about it this way!  I, like you, have always made a conscious effort not to say such things in front of my children, but tend to let it loose on hubby sometimes.

      • Ryan

        I have heard my wife say many things that made me think, “if I ever heard anyone talking about my wife the way she does, I’d slap their face!” I am most attracted to my wife when she’s happy with herself. I have prayed that God would replace her thoughts about herself with His thoughts about her.

  • http://twitter.com/SprinklesInLife Rachel Shearer

    Guilty as charged… “I feel fat” spews forth from my mouth way to often and the other week I had to hear the words come from my 9 year old as a result… “mommy, do I look fat?” OUCH. After some dialogue with her, I was able to examine my own heart’s workings. I have been working so hard to maintain a positive self dialogue so that those bitter words will no longer leave my lips before I can catch them…. 

  • me.burke

    Yes, so true!  I stand guilty of the doing the same thing.  

    Thanks for this.  I really enjoy your posts.  They are real, and they encourage me to step it up and be a godlier mother and person.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1316922398 Julieut Maiuri

    I was raised in a family that put no value on appearance, and therefore never commented on body shape or size, etc.  Although I did not carry much from those that parented me, I did keep that.  We don’t discuss weight, size, or diet (as far as loosing weight) in our home.  I have two girls that are 7 & 9, and they don’t ever make comments about their weight.  We DO discuss better choices in food, what feeds our body better, but we don’t restrict any foods.  We also encourage sports and both girls play about 9 months a year.  We are trying to teach them to feed & strengthen their bodies and, maybe, not focus so much on the size of their bodies!   

  • http://mydomesticchallenge.wordpress.com/ Kelley

    I’m SO happy to have come across your blog.  Each day, it’s like you’re speaking directly to ME.  I have a tiny guy who is starting to repeat what I say.  I already knew to eliminate adult language, but this is a great reminder that subject matter is just as important.

  • Zhanna

    I notice a lot of my mom friends doing this. And it’s easy to think that the kids aren’t listening. But it’s crazy just how much they absorb.

    And I used to be so self absorbed in my mid twenties, even after having my 1st child, I focused a lot on appearance and professed foolish complaints about my body, my clothes, etc.

    Sadly enough it took a good shaken for me to wake up out of my selfish chase over things that didn’t matter.

    Now with 2 little girls to call my own, good health is the constant topic in our household and that beauty is from within and that true joy comes from knowing we are His, not what we have.

  • karaliechty

    What a great, great post.  I don’t think I can stress what an important issue this is right now in the life of not only girls…. but boys and the Church as well.  
    I read an amazing book about this:  Who Calls Me Beautiful by Regina Franklin.
    It’s the FIRST time I have ever read such a solid and thorough and HONEST treatment of this subject.  The FIRST time… and I’m not new coming out of the gate, people.  
    I really think every woman should read that book.  Seriously.  I don’t say that about hardly anything– but that’s how important this subject is.  AND yes, we need to gate our mouths and BEG of the Lord to change our hearts and minds in the process… b/c too many of us have drank deeply from Hollywood’s well.  We’re so doped up on that garbage that we don’t even really know the truth about our own beauty and self-worth… and like drunk women, we need to sober up.  We can *speak* the truth, yes… but our kids are not stupid…. they can tell the difference between reality and play-acting better than we would think or hope.  

    Thank you Sarah Mae, for this really important message.  I pray for us, as women, that the truth behind this will deeply penetrate our hearts and minds. 

  • http://www.ordinaryinspirations.blogspot.com/ Traci Michele

    amen so true!   I’m really striving to say things like I want to exercise to stay healthy instead of lose weight, etc… you are so right thanks for this post!  Love, Traci

  • http://twitter.com/SeekingGrace316 Missy

    This is an interesting article for God to place in front of me considering my latest post on my personal struggle with my weight. 

    I do think about the thoughts and ideas I’m putting into my daughter’s mind, but I try REALLY hard to never make those kinds of comments in front of her for this very specific reason. I want her to grow up with a healthy body image, unlike myself. 

  • thebettermom

    Oh I love love love this Sarah. Thank you for sharing. It is soooo right on and I needed that reminder.

  • http://pinkdryerlint.blogspot.com/ Pink Dryer Lint

    Agreed!  I made a promise years ago that I would set a good example for my daughters:

    http://pinkdryerlint.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-i-never-criticize-my-appearace.html

  • http://mercysavedme.blogspot.com/ Piper

    OUCH!! Guilty!!

  • http://crystalbrothers.wordpress.com/ Crystal Brothers

    I totally agree!  One thing I tell my teens is to always remember what their careless comments say about the others around them as well.  When “skinny girls” call themselves fat, what does that say about the rest of us?

    I really try to make en effort not to say self-critical things like that in front of my boys, but sometimes it just pops out without thinking.  The important thing is that you are aware of it, so you’ll be making a conscious effort :)

  • http://ramonawritesagain.com/ Ramona

    Fantastic and so convicting! To this day, my inner dialogue contains words I often heard my momma say when I was growing up.

  • http://carriethinkstoomuch.blogspot.com/ Carrie

    Well said. We have a lot more influence than billboards!

  • anneanddustin

    Love your honesty with this!  So true and we all find ourselves doing this.  I commend you for seeing this and being willing to show this to your daughters.  As a woman who grew up a girl hating her body and doing unhealthy things to stay thin I say Amen to this blog post!  I thank God that he has brought me to a place now in my 30′s of learning to embrace and love myself inside and out.  : )  

  • http://profiles.google.com/lindsey.m.bell Lindsey Bell

    Such a good reminder. I have boys, but I still have to be careful what they hear. I certainly don’t want them growing up to value appearances more than hearts. 

  • Brit Rochelle

    Thank you. That is so true…

  • http://medievalchristianreflections.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    Perhaps it would seem strange to some that YOU, Sarah dear, (miss very tiny, petite gal that you are:) would ever say such a thing. But as much as I need to lose 40 lbs. it isn’t strange to me. You see, when I was a size 5; my all time thinnest, I battled an identity crisis and was the most miserable I had ever been. I had worked hard to get to that point, but whenever I would look in the mirror, all I wanted was to look like someone else, and I thought, “if I could just get a little thinner, maybe I would.”

    Oh the lies we believe, and yes, our children are indeed, the victims. Your book, Core Lies, brought me back to when I was in bondage and the lies I had, at one time, believed.

    I am actually more content, (40 lbs. too heavy and all) than I ever was at size 5. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to drop the weight. I have already lost 37 and hope to drop the remaining 40, but I never want to go back to where I once was emotionally or spiritually.

    Sorry for the book!

  • Erika @ Slowly Natural

    I try to catch myself from saying things like that, especially in front of my daughters, but I know I haven’t always been successful. Oh how I wish it was easier to instill in them how beautiful they are, how beautiful I am… :-) Great post!

  • Bethanyblatz

    “I have got to learn to gate my mouth when I want to spew out the venom of self-loathing. I must instead choose to praise God for how I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Thank for this reminder.  I agree from reading some of the comments that even to speak this to our husbands is unproductive.  Mine says to me “Don’t talk about my wife that way”…but the ugly self depricating thoughts come and they seem like fact and truth at the time…I guess the key is to turn those thoughts to prayer and praising.  “Thank you God that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Thank you for my capacity and limits and looks just the way they are.  Let me glorify you in my weakness and praise you with my mouth! “

  • Busymomof10

    Much needed reminder!  Thanks for posting this!

  • Sally’s Twin

    I hope your husband was able to help you out and allow your daughter to overheard, while coloring, how beautiful you are as well as compliment you on your spirit and inner beauty!  you’re a team, right?
     

  • http://aboverubies.net/ jasmine

    Excellent. Thanks, Sarah Mae.

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/ Barbie

    I am so with you here.  My children, especially my daughters, have heard me complain about myself all too often.  I want them to grow up secure in how God created them — beautiful!

  • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

    “I am the media.  I am the culture.”

    Wow, that stung.  Such a needed reminder.

  • Zibinyc

    Yes and No. It has been proven through many researches done in 58 societies what is considered to be attractive and what is not… If you are fat and if your face is far from symmetrical, and if the level of estrogen in your body is low then most likely you will be found unattractive by most Men. It is a fact, but another fact worth taking into consideration here is that there are many many men who are also unattractive yet might posses other qualities that will in fact make them attractive in your eyes: humor, MONEY, intelligence etc. Fortunately, as you are a woman, you will never have troubles finding a guy to be with, but you will have huge troubles (if you are unattractive) finding a guy who’s super handsome and “rich”. In actuality, it is a man who is both unattractive and has no money that needs to worry about finding a partner. 

    “I am the media. I am the culture” – sorry but you are not, the society has been shaped to match the human nature. Struggle for power, beauty, recognition etc.  Your own subjective perception on the society will barely go beyond your house’s walls if is too far of from what society already is. 

    Fortunately,people match together in regard to how attractive they are. For the sake of this argument lets say 10 is the most attractive and 1 is the least. You will find a lot of partners who are 5 – 6 ,  7-8 , 8-8  10-10  that are together, their rate of attractiveness is similar. But you will almost never find a guy who is 2/3 that is dating/married to  a woman who is 9/10 unless that guy has a lot of money. Money (Power) became a new MEAN to make up for attractiveness. When it comes to women… if you are 1 ,2 ,3 and you still will find a partner if you want to…  because in fact it is a woman that chooses the partner, that hunts the man. Woman has all the power when in comes to choosing a mate.  

    Ask yourself this question, did you ever think to yourself when you saw really old and ugly guy with a really young and beautiful women… didn’t you think oh.. something is wrong with this picture… or oh she’s with him for the money, she can’t possible find him attractive etc…    We can see that something is wrong with that picture because the level of attractiveness is not equal for both partners. 

    Psychologist from France.

    • Heidi Austin Cousino

      I think you missed the point of this post.

  • Janelle Marie

    As a mother of boys, still find it important to gate my mouth when talking about myself. And it’s something I have to remember to do daily.

    Janelle

  • http://www.girlwithblog.com/ Anna R

    Oh, how I needed this reminder today. While my son is still just a toddler, I need to stop thinking ‘I’ll stop saying xyz when he can really understand what I’m saying.’ OOF. I need to stop that now. Thanks for this truth, Sarah Mae.

  • Rebecca

    I’m not even a mom yet… in fact, I’ve only been married a few months. But maybe now would be as good a time as any to quit making those derogatory, self-aimed remarks, and believe my husband when he says that I’m beautiful. All of me.

  • http://www.jasonbladd.com/ Jason B. Ladd

    they absorb so much more than we realize. A parent’s words and attitudes are powerful, and they will be mimicked. Bullseye on the call for more discretion around our little ones!