My daughter loves seeing herself in the mirror, drawn to her parallel image like a magnet. Ever since she has been old enough to recognize her reflection in the glass, she has smiled, giggled, and reached out for herself. It’s a beautiful sight. As one who has fought my own reflection in the mirror, I’m starting to understand these moments as what they truly are: sacred.

Ella is not yet two years old. Her belly is as round as a ball after each meal, and her legs still carry the remnants of baby pudge. She is stretching out, but she is still a little bit baby—a little bit soft. And she adores herself. Now that she’s walking, running, and trying to jump, she will run to the full-length mirror in our room and stand in front of it, watching herself as she moves. She usually dances and shakes her head, giggling at herself. More than once, I have caught myself with tears in my eyes and have prayed that she would always delight in her body like this.

It’s been many years since I have been able to do the same. That freedom, that lack of self-consciousness, that complete joy in her own reflection—that is an experience that I don’t want her to lose. But her growing-up years will take place in a culture that is trying to tell her she has nothing to delight in when she looks in the mirror.

A Lost Freedom

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror with pure delight. I do like myself, and I think that I have a healthy self-image. I don’t loathe my body or avoid mirrors, but even when I’m feeling fit and my clothes enhance my figure, I tend to focus on the aspects of my body that I don’t love. I focus on my rounding tummy, the girth of my thighs, the shortness ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Posted: