A Missouri mom's Facebook post about the importance of displaying positive body image for our daughters is going viral. Brittney Johnson's words recounting a recent experience trying on bathing suits with her daughter has been shared almost 63,000 times, and has received 94,000 reactions at time of writing.
After a fun day of shopping and dining, Johnson shares how she and her friendly"diva" daughter went over to Target to try on swimsuits. "We picked out 11. Yeah. ELEVEN," she jokes. "Walked into the dressing room and she sat down her baby and started unhooking the swimsuits from the hangers and yelling 'I can see your butt!' for the whole dressing room to hear."
Johnson proceeded to try on suit after suit. "I snapped pictures of them to send to my girlfriends and say 'yes or no?' because girls are wired weird and that's just what we do."
She then snapped the photo she shared in her post, that includes her daughter trying on one of her mama's bikini tops in the background. "I stopped for a second to see what she would say and when she turned to the mirror, she said 'Wow I just love cheetah print! I think I look beautiful! Do you think I look beautiful too?!'"
That's when it hit Johnson that when it comes to body image, little girls repeat what they hear and see. "I tell her that she is beautiful every single day. She is kind walking through the mall, because I tell her she is kind everywhere else. She is polite at the order counter because she hears me when I'm polite to strangers everywhere. She gives compliments to people she doesn't know because she loves how it feels when she hears them.. And when we are in a dressing room, with swimsuits of all God forsaken things, there is a split moment when I have the power to say 'wow I have really gotten fat this year' OR 'wow I love this coral color on me!' And those are the words burned into my daughters [sic] brain."
Johnson ends her powerful post by encouraging other moms to be a good example for their kids when it comes to manners and kindness. "And when it comes to body image, be an example. I am not a size zero. I never will be. I have big thighs and a huge rump and for some reason the middle of my body gets more tan than the rest? But this body made a whole other body. I am strong. I am able. And I am happy. I don't have to be beautiful like you, because I am beautiful like me."
We reached out to Johnson, who said she didn't expect the post to get the overwhelming response it did. But she believes it struck a chord with people because the situation is so relatable. "How many moms go into a dressing room with a restless toddler only to catch them criticizing themselves?" she told us. "My daughter deserves to know that we're all different but all still beautiful, and even on our bad days I think most moms want their kids to feel the same way. I'm an average girl, of average size, doing the best I can to be a good momma, and that is the same as just about any other momma I know."
I very much relate to her post as a mom of three girls. In fact, they were with me during a weekend trip to Target when I tried on maternity clothes, an experience that can be even more humbling than bathing suit shopping. Yes, I looked in the mirror and thought I looked like I was trying on a tent. And I wanted to cry and say, "Ugh, I feel fat." But I didn't. I simply took off the offending tent dress and said, "I don't care for this on me." Did I mention the girls all hid under the dress and we laughed at how ridiculous it was?
The thing is, I refuse to let my girls think that Mommy doesn't like herself. I know that will translate into them thinking they shouldn't like themselves, and that is so not okay.
So bravo to Johnson for her brave post, and for sharing her words of wisdom, which I hope more moms will take under advisement for the good of their daughters.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.