Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

“I’m so fat!”

This is what I said to my husband as I stared in the mirror, frowning at my pregnancy bloat. Honestly, I don’t think I’m fat at all. I’m very happy with my postpartum self, and confident in the body that successfully birthed a whole freaking human. I was just whining about the awkward stage of pregnancy where it’s mostly pizza and not so much baby.

Immediately after I said those words though, I regretted it. I turned to look at my daughter Hallie, not yet two, who was lifting her shirt to stare at her tummy just as I was staring at mine. I was immediately crushed. Even though I don’t believe I’m fat, just saying the words can do so much damage to my little girl.

I thought for a moment and took my shirt off and my daughter’s. I picked her up and we both looked in the mirror. I said “Look at my strong girl.” She laughed and repeated “strong!”, because we talk about strength a lot. I also pointed to my stomach, along with the stretch marks that are already surfacing again. I told Hallie, “Look at Mommy’s beautiful tummy. Hallie grew in here, and now another baby is growing in here.” I then poked Hallie’s stomach and said “Look at Hallie’s beautiful tummy. So full of giggles and smiles and nom-noms.”

We made faces in the mirror, and we talked more about how strong, brave, and kind we both are. I know it may seem silly, but it was really important to teach Hallie that when she looks in the mirror, she should never be sad at what she sees. As Hallie gets older, we will talk about how little outer appearance matters and how she can internalize the love she should have for herself. Right now, baby steps.

It sucks, because I’ve also been known to say, “I’m so stupid” or “I’m an idiot.” It’s not just about how I look. Negative self-talk in any form is damaging to little ones who are listening. I never want Hallie to make a mistake and assume she is stupid. Mistakes are normal. Stretch marks are normal. This is where it starts, and positive self-affirmations are what will keep both myself and my daughter happy.

It’s not easy to redirect our own negativity, especially on a bad day. But it’s not just about me anymore. Hallie watches my every move, so what do I want her to copy? I can’t control everything she internalizes, but I can control what she sees.

My daughter encourages me to be a better person. Hallie encourages me to love myself, because how can I teach her to be kind to herself if I stand in front of a mirror and degrade myself? It won’t matter what I say to her if she sees me treating my own self like crap.

So that was the last time I will ever call myself “fat.” I am more than a reflection in a mirror, and so is my daughter.