Mothers give us so many things (like you know, life). But there's another special gift that moms often unknowingly give their daughters: Self-love. From your earliest age, how your mom felt about her body likely influenced how you felt about yours. Moms aren't perfect—if she pinched her fat and grimaced in the mirror, you may find yourself making that same expression now—but sometimes they know just the right thing to say or do to make you feel like the beautiful goddess you are.
We asked eight women to share how their moms helped them #lovemyshape.
My Mom Cut Up Her Wedding Dress So I Wouldn't Feel Bad About My Size
"When I was a teenager my church decided to do a mother-daughter fashion show where the daughters would model their mother's wedding dresses. All my friends were excited about getting to wear those precious dresses and I wanted to do it too. There was just one problem: I'm adopted and I look nothing like my mom, especially her size. Even at 15 I was almost six feet tall (compared to her 5'2") and probably weighed twice as much. There was no way I was fitting into her dress. At first, the organizers suggested she just pin her dress to my front and have me walk down the runway that way, an idea I found completely humiliating. I had decided not to participate when one day I came home from school to find her cutting apart her beloved wedding dress. She made me a completely new dress out of it. All she said was that she wanted me to have a dress as beautiful as I was and her old rag wasn't worthy of me. Instead of telling me to lose weight or being embarrassed I was too big for her dress, she simply changed the dress to fit and flatter my body. I walked that runway so proud, feeling incredibly beautiful. I still cry every time I remember that." —Wendy L.
My Mom Taught Me My Birthmark Was a Secret Super Power
"I was born with a birthmark on my right thigh. It's discolored, fairly large and continued to grow as I got older. I was very self-conscious of it from a very young age. I remember one day some kids at school had been teasing me about it and I came home and took all my shorts and threw them in the garbage. I'd decided I'd only wear pants for the rest of my life so no one would see my birthmark again. My mom noticed and came in to talk to me. She told me all about the day I was born and how that birthmark was one of the first things she noticed and loved about me, that it was a unique part of who I am. She helped me see it in a whole new light, sort of like a super power that I had that no one else did. I kept wearing shorts and learned to ignore comments about it. Recently my doctor mentioned there's a laser treatment now that could remove or at least lighten my birthmark. I've thought a lot about it and decided not to do it because my mom is right—it's part of what makes me beautiful and special." —Liz S.
My Mom Broke the Family Tradition of Body Hate
"My grandmother was always really hard on my mom about her body. My grandma was very petite but my mom was big and brawny, like the women on her father's side. Because of this, she grew up feeling like she wasn't good enough and never felt pretty; she was always on a diet. But once my mom had me, she says everything changed. When she saw how beautiful and perfect I was, she was determined that I would grow up knowing that—and that started with her. Since then she's worked really hard to appreciate her body the way it is and help me do the same. She's not perfect, I know there are things she doesn't love about herself, but that makes me love her even more because it means she's real. And while there are things that aren't my favorite about my body, for the most part, I love it and appreciate it. I've never been tempted to go on crash diets or plastic surgery and I chalk that up to my mom. She always makes me feel beautiful!" —Beth R.
My Mom Taught Me to Not Judge Any Woman's Body—Including Mine
"I still remember the first time I heard a woman make fun of another woman's body. I was in second grade and a friend's mom took us out for ice cream. I remember that she didn't order any ice cream and when I asked her why she said she didn't want to be fat and ugly like that and pointed to an overweight woman nearby eating ice cream. The comment stuck in my head. I'd never really heard anything like it before because my mom never commented in a negative way on women's bodies, including her own. My mom only said nice things about others, even if it was in private. As I've gotten older I've learned how rare this is and consider it a gift. I think judging other women's bodies makes you look more harshly at your own because you're buying into that fake standard of what's beautiful. Now I'm able to look in the mirror and I hear all the nice things my mom has always said, about me and others, rather than mean or hurtful comments." —Jamie K.
My Mom Taught Me to Celebrate My Period
"Growing up my mom always made a big deal about how beautiful and powerful a woman's body was. She would tell my sisters and me that our bodies were a temple, that we were strong, that we were the children of Mother Earth and were so beautiful. At the time it sounded like a bunch of hippie crap, and I'd get so embarrassed when she'd launch into her speech in front of my friends. (Especially the time she told us about how our 'moon times'—aka our periods—were an act of creation and should be celebrated.) But now that I'm a grown woman I appreciate how she taught me to love and respect my body, both for how it looks and what it does. The other day my friend was complaining about her fat stomach and I immediately responded, 'Don't talk that way about your temple!' We both had a good laugh, but I think my mom is right about how strong and powerful women are." —Jessica S.
My Mom Showed Me That What My Body Can Do Is More Important Than What It Looks Like
"Though she had never walked further than a 5K race, my mom laced up her shoes and trained for her first half marathon at the age of 65, and then her second just six months later that we ran together. She showed me that you should never let weight, physical fitness, or age hold you back and inspired not just me but also many women around her as she focused on what her body could do versus what it couldn't do. (She even wrote a post about her experience on my blog!) So often we as women allow a number on a scale to serve as a basis for our self-worth when in reality, it's physical accomplishments and going out of our comfort zone that should really be the basis. These are the things that make us stronger." —Ashley R.
My Mom Gave Me the Strength to Resist Fad Diets
"My mom always told me that I am perfect the way God made me. I never really understood what that meant for me until middle school when my friends started talking about how fat they were and that they needed to lose weight. My mom always made me feel like I'm just fine so dieting was definitely not on my radar. So many girls at that age spend so much time worrying about their weight and their looks that it was a gift to me to be free from that. Now that I have a son, I try to always tell him the same thing, that he's perfect just the way he is." —Angela H.
My Mom Taught Me to Be Better Than Her
"My mom taught me to love my body in kind of a backward way. She was always embarrassed of her body, and I grew up feeling the same way about mine—until I discovered fitness. Going to the gym and feeling strong helped me see how beautiful and amazing my body really is. When I first started going to the gym, she thought that I was insane. She approved of my cardio workouts (to lose weight, of course), but when I started lifting weights, she actually asked me if I was thinking about getting a sex change. Eventually, she began to see that strong is awesome, especially when I could lift every heavy object she needed transported. She's gone now but when I meet up with her in heaven some day I can't wait to hear her reaction to the exercise I took up after her death—boxing! I guess you could say my mom helped me love my body because I fought to be the opposite. But I also hope that on some level I helped her learn to love her body too." —Mary R.