In a Facebook post that's currently going viral with over 280,000 likes, Brittney Johnson points out just how much mothers can shape and affect their children's relationships with body image. Johnson, from Missouri, was standing in a Target dressing room on May 8, trying on bathing suits with her 4-year-old daughterPayton, when her daughter said something that really struck her.
See that sweet baby girl in the corner? With half a dress on and one of the bikini tops I had picked out? 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?!"..when it hit me that she only says what she hears. What she sees. 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 brain.
In her post, Johnson explains just how much children learn from their parents, from being polite and saying "please" and "thank you" to giving compliments to strangers just because it's a nice thing to do. And that influence extends to everything, including body image.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Johnson said that she was "touched" by the huge response her post got and the opportunity to "connect" with other parents. She revealed that a lot of people contacted her to tell her how her post motivated them to stop saying negative things about themselves.
“It has been such a great reminder that we are all on the same team, have the same fears and ultimately want the same thing for our children ― love,” she explained. She added, “For every mean comment that I’ve received about my body, I’ve received at least a thousand positive comments, and I have to say that gives me a little more faith in humanity than when I started."
I hope people can read my post and then look at themselves and say, "Here I am, and I am beautiful just the way I am." I hope people take away from it that our kids should know self-love and will only learn it if we take the time to teach it to them. And no matter what kind of mom you are or what size, you are beautiful and have every right to feel like you are.