Sarah Bragg is such a wonderful and authentic mom. I loved this blog about weight. It’s a great reminder of getting our priorities right. This blog is an excerpt from her awesome book, A Mother’s Guide Raising Herself. You can get a copy of the book on Amazon or on SarahBragg.com.
You Can Trust Her—Your Body
When I was nine years old, a girl at a party called me fat. Sarah’s so fat! I can still clearly remember the scene unfolding. At the time, it was as if I were watching my life from the outside looking in. Until then, I’d had no worries about my body. I truly didn’t notice it. I was just a kid. I ate cereal for breakfast and loved ice cream, but in no way was I worried about how my body looked. But that day my body let me down and left me out, so I learned not to trust my body.
For nearly two decades after that, I hated my body because I felt like it had failed me, betrayed me. I had learned that my body was the measure by which I would be accepted, admired, or included. Whether that was actually true or not, it was my truth. I starved myself. I threw up. I exercised. I dieted. I did it all. And let me just tell you, living that way was exhausting.
Now that I have girls, I can’t help but want something different for them. My girls are the ones who shook me out of the spiral of self-destruction that had been going on since before they even existed. When I was in my early twenties, I went to my mentor’s house one night after work, and as we sat together on her sofa after her young children had gone to bed, she listened to me go on and on about how I felt about myself. I must have sounded like a broken record as I told her my struggles. Finally, she stopped me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “For the sake of your future children, you have to stop. They will treat food the way you do. They will treat themselves the way you do.”
Cue mic drop.
Her words hit me powerfully. She was right. The idea of my future children jolted me out of my warped view of myself. I didn’t have kids at the time and wasn’t even dating anyone, but at that point, I realized I would be a mother someday, and my children would learn about their bodies by watching how I treated mine.
Over the year of the pandemic, I gained 15 pounds. And while I didn’t like seeing that number on the scale, I realized something as I stood there. There was no real difference between me last year, fifteen pounds lighter, and me now. Friendships didn’t change because of that number. My job didn’t change because of that number. My children didn’t stop loving me because of that number. My world didn’t come crashing down because the number on the scale had changed. The essence of me was the same. What brought me joy was the same. What made me sad was the same. What excited me was the same. I was still me. The change in weight didn’t change me.
I thought back and wished I’d appreciated how good I looked the year before. But I had also spent that year agonizing over the number on the scale and the size of my jeans. Just like little nine-year-old Sarah at the party, I couldn’t see myself. I remembered the angst I felt. The sleep I lost over whether or not I should have eaten that dessert. The feeling that I still needed to strive for better self-control, for fewer pounds and inches. If only I had realized how good I looked. Maybe I would have relaxed and enjoyed where I was in life.
Now, at forty-two, I’m working on enjoying where I am in life. I’m working on being okay with the number on the scale and the size of the jeans I wear. Because maybe, ten years down the road, I’ll be thinking, “Man, I would love to be back at the size I was when I was forty-two. I should have enjoyed it.” Aging is hard. Seeing how quickly ten years go by and how quickly our appearance changes is not easy. We need to learn to love where we are. We need to learn to love the bodies we have.
That day on the scale, I realized I needed to start appreciating my body. I didn’t want my girls to struggle to appreciate and love their own bodies. I discovered that when I want something for my girls, I want it for myself, too.
I want my girls and myself to love our bodies.
I want my girls and myself to learn to trust and appreciate our bodies.
I want my girls and myself to believe that our bodies are good and are for them.