Photo: Thomas Haslinger

While chatting with a close friend the other day, we started talking about the periods in our lives when we felt the most confident in ourselves. As I listened to her tell me about how she felt, I thought about this question and really started to think about my answer. For as long as I can remember I have had some sort of body image issue with myself. Depending on the time in my life and the stage of my development, I have been self-conscious and insecure. I wish this wasn’t the case and I hate to admit it but unfortunately, even as an adult, I struggle daily with the beast that is insecurity.

When I had my daughter, I knew I had to do everything in my power to raise a self-confident, self-assured woman who didn’t feel the way I have always felt. I’ve read everything there is to read about what not to do or say to a young girl so that she develops self-love and security within herself. The thing is, I have the most wonderful mother who has always made me feel important, worthy and who worked tirelessly to instill confidence in me throughout my life, and I still turned out the way I did. I have been told that my insecurities stem from abandonment issues or came from a time in my teenage years when I was trying to find my place in the world.

But I can tell you here and now that I have memories (that are clear as day) from elementary school, before my dad left and I lived a seemingly normal childhood, where I judged my appearance, questioned my place in life and just felt crappy about myself. Where did those insecurities come from and how do I protect my daughter from developing them?

The Ugly Truth

Here’s the thing, as I struggle in my personal battle with insecurities, my daughter is old enough now to see how I treat myself as a woman. I’d be lying if I said she hasn’t walked in on me staring at myself in the mirror as I stand in my underwear, picking my thighs apart and lift my breasts up. That she hasn’t heard me say how I wished I was thinner, had thicker hair or clearer skin. That she hasn’t asked me why I work out so much even when I’m sick or sore from the day before. But the truth is she has heard me put myself down, analyze myself and pick out my flaws. It’s not just vanity driven either… I have talked about my role in our family, my career goals and failed dreams in front of her (not on purpose mind you). The ugly truth is that even if I say everything I need to say to my daughter and praise her and build up her self-esteem, setting an example with how I view myself in front of her speaks volumes.

I’m aware that I can’t hide everything from my growing daughter but an honest effort on my part needs to be made. She will be 10 this year and is increasingly more curious in her knowledge of a young girl’s role in life. I’m trying to raise the most confident woman I can, and even though she is absolutely different than I ever was, instilling the basic fundamentals in self-esteem and security within her is so extremely important to me. The struggle is real though, because as a parent, in order to set an example of self-love, I first need to address the bigger problem that is my insecurity itself. And honestly, I still go to bed at night praying that one day I will wake up and just feel better.