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 ...1
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