A letter to my daughter on your Birthday

Happy Birthday EK

It is hard to believe that it has been 9 years since entered this world fists clenched screaming your face off.  So much has changed, both with you and me.  I have watched you grow from this tiny little being that was unable to do anything alone to a person with an ever widening range of opinions, emotions and feelings.  You have left your mark on this earth so far and I believe that you will continue to do so- in whatever way you chose. I want you to know it is because of you that I do the work that I do.  It is because of you I have become stronger.  It is because of you  I found my place in this world.  It is because of you I learned I am so much more than my physical self.

You are now hitting the age where I have seen children struggle with their bodies.  Some start the lifelong journey of hating their thighs, butt, nose...whatever...at this age.  Some start to see food as the enemy instead of something that can be enjoyable and provide pleasure.  And I am not going to lie- I am scared.  I need to let you grow and form your own thoughts and opinions and to do so I need to let you venture out into this world.  This world that will look at you and make assumptions about your health and status by the size of your body, the world that will pay you less because you are a female, the world that does not let your body be your own.  A world I wish I could change for you but I can't.

We have spent the last 9 years letting you know that your worth is not determined by your beauty, that your strength does not come from the size of your jeans.  I have tried to be a positive role model- no diet talk, no scales, exercise for for fun and relaxation not weight loss and "no negative body talk allowed" in this house...but has it been enough??  Have | inoculated you to the comments that both praise and shame your body?  Have I been a strong enough voice for you to be able to filter those comments and not let them harm you?  Have we done enough??  I have no idea and only time will tell.  But I think you may get it...

The other day when a family member commented on your "long beautiful legs" you turned to me and winked...the wink and little eye roll seemed to say "don't worry mom I know I am more than legs"  And you are.  You are strong, you are smart, you are kind, you are nutty, you are devilish, you are everything that makes you you.  And that is enough.

I promise I will continue on this journey with you.  I will encourage you to take up space in this world- not diminish yourself.  I will let you become your own bad ass Jedi to fight for the causes and battles you choose.  I will however, continue to fight unapologetically against diet culture and body shaming in the hopes of making your path a little smoother.

Remember, you only have one earth suit.  Treat it with respect.  You do not need to love it every day but you need to take care of it.  Move it in a way that brings you joy, nourish it with foods you love and want to eat, rest it when it needs a break and above all else, trust it to tell you what it needs.  And if, my darling child,  you ever need help with these things (or anything else for that matter) ask.  Ask me (or anyone you trust) for help.  I may not know what to do but we-together- can figure it out.  Just like we have since the clock turned to 7:01am July 27, 2008....

Love, Me