I stare at that sweet face and know that cycles need shattered. At what point are we all introduced to feelings of shame, of worthlessness? My husband says that humans are a plague — as he gazes into our baby’s eyes he thinks of the corruption of innocence, the blank slate becoming soiled with blood. She lays on my chest, gives a drooly smile and practices opening and closing her hands. We all start here: drool-covered babes full of innocent wonder, love, contentment. Parents sucked into negative cycles inflict more negativity onto their spawn, and the chains of degeneracy continue.
How can we prevent our children from feeling shameful about themselves? I think this is the root of a lot of unhappiness in adult life. How do we prevent little girls from growing up with the same self-esteem issues that generations before them have endured? I think about myself, my sister, my mother. Not once have I seen a healthy personal example of a confident woman. My mother, ceaselessly unhappy with herself, unintentionally taught my sister and I to be unhappy with ourselves as well. She said that she made sure to never self-criticize in front of us, but children are so much more perceptive than we ever give them credit for, and they are constantly absorbing. It is my belief there is not much you can truly hide from your little ones.
I have struggled, fought tears back in a brightly lit bathroom mirror too many times to count throughout my life. While I could, at the very least, agree that I was not a horrendous situation, I could never achieve feelings of worthiness or satisfaction with the arrangement of my face. In time, I began to rely on male attention to validate my self-esteem. If I was sexy enough, if I could blow his mind in bed, give a killer blow-job, it meant I was the stuff of fantasy. Being a sexy-porno-fantasy-girl meant I was hot. Giving men boners meant I was attractive to the straight male population. This, of course, is a tale as old as time itself when it comes to female self-worth and value. Culture literally grooms us into desiring male approval through sexual means. It just seems that the women in my family have been inflicted with it harder than others.
I shudder to think about my own daughter going through similar things, being used and abused in the same manner for years and years in frantic search of validation and beauty. The idea crushes me, to know I might have a part in that.
If I can learn to truly love myself and appreciate my body, I can give her a role model worth following. Breaking 24 years of self-hatred is not an easy task, but I am getting there day by day. Pregnancy and childbirth have been catalyst for my self acceptance because I have no other choice but to accept myself in my new state — my survival and mental health depends on it. Every day I try to enjoy my new body without any resentment. The toll of reproduction is much higher on the female psyche and body.
What are some things you do to help instill good self esteem in your little ones?