I recently had an Oprah style Aha! moment, you know the type when a camera flash pierces your brain and leaves you stumbling around with partial vision as you try to re-adjust to this new, brighter world view. In fact, this moment required more than a camera flash, it required a large, two-by-four (or block of wood for my non-Australian readers) to knock me about the head a little. Here’s how my Aha! moment came about, in three parts, like I said, block of wood!!
Part 1: I have never been good at accepting compliments gracefully, especially as they relate to my physical appearance. I feel embarrassed by compliments and fumble my way through some kind of ridiculous denouncement of what the compliment-giver has bestowed upon me. Don’t ask me why? Psychologists would probably say that it has something to do being a first born, people please-r, A-type personality who grew up never feeling quite good enough. And there would probably be some truth to that. Quite a lot of truth, if I am really truthful! Anyway, back to compliments… (stick with me, this post is going somewhere, I promise)
Immy has lovely, curly hair and people often comment on how gorgeous it is. I agree, it is beautiful. And yet, this week I found myself responding to such a compliment with,
“Oh no, it is like bed hair, it never looks brushed, even two minutes after I have brushed it.”
And I hadn’t even finished speaking these horrible words when the following three thoughts went bumbling about my brain;
1. This is not the first time that I have said these words,
2. My daughter is right here listening as I say these words about her, and
3. What type of message am I communicating to her with these words about her appearance?
*gulp* cue massive doses of mother guilt
Part 2: If you ask Immy who in her family has beautiful curly hair, she will reply, herself, her Grandma and her Mummy. All are true. And yet I waste time most days ironing out those damn waves!
Part 3: I recently saw an episode of Oprah where she was talking to Geneen Roth, author of a book entitled, Women, Food and God, and Geneen said that daughters want to be like their mothers which I think we all know is true. What she also said, and this is the bit that really stuck in my head, is;
It’s not what we say about them that they hear but what we believe about ourselves.
Needless to say, I have had to hold a mirror up close this week and give myself a strong talking to about the messages I am communicating to my child through what I say about her, what I say about myself AND through my actions. And this is one Aha! moment that I never, ever hope to forget.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this issue. Do you struggle with your own self image? Is this impacting upon the messages your children are ‘hearing’?