Dear Emily...

Some of you may know that on November 18, 2016, I gave birth to the most beautiful little girl named Emily Ida.  What she does not yet realize, is that the world right now is filled with a lot of hate.  A lot of hate, that I am not going to get into right now, but there is something that I fear... Something that I fear so much, that it often reduces me to tears when I think about it.  I need her to know what it is like to be a woman, visually.


Dear Emily,

I remember the first time I wanted to go on a diet.  I was in second grade.  Yes, that is correct.  I was playing in my mom's car with my friends {It was the 80's, and that is what we did back then}.  I remember it vividly.  I was wearing my typical summer mismatched outfit, and I thought "I'm fat, I'm only going to eat salads for awhile, and that will fix it".  I don't even know where it came from, but that is what I thought was right.

Well, I was in second grade, so I could not comprehend what a diet was, and went about eating what my parents {your grandparents} made me for meals.  Not to mention, we lived in a time of "you finish all of your dinner, and you will sit at the table until you do".  I wasn't fat, but I did have some extra weight on me.  This continued through middle school.  This is normal for kids, regardless of what I thought at the time.

Then came ninth grade.  I didn't even realize what had happened.  I remember my English teacher, who I had the year prior, as well.  She said to me on the second day of school... "look at you skinny mini, you lost weight over the summer!"  Now I realize that it was kind of a jerk comment to say to a kid, but at the time... I thought that I was finally pretty.  I strutted around the school that year, like I was a winner.  I had no idea what I was doing, come on... I was in ninth grade for pete's sake.

I stayed skinny all throughout high school.  In fact, I was a glorious 105 pounds.  I didn't even weigh enough to donate blood.  I was the captain of the cheer leading squad.  I felt like this was going to be the best life, because I was thin.  I remember one time at work {at Target}, Barbie was supposed to come and visit for an autograph signing {We didn't have cell phones then for selfies, we had autograph books for signatures}, and my boss was worried Barbie was not going to show.  Their solution was that I was the backup because I was the only one skinny enough to fit the dress.  I acted mortified at the thought, but secretly, I was excited. "I was as skinny as Barbie", I remember thinking.  In all honesty, I looked like a freaking bobble head doll.  I wasn't healthy, at all.

Then my life fell, I went to college, and I slowly started to put on weight over the next few years.  I hated myself.  I thought I was ugly, and stupid, and how was anyone going to like me?  I ate like crap, I no longer exercised.  When I was finally out of school, I began a cycle of crash diets.  Panic attacks started, and I was diagnosed with depression.  There was a boy I liked, who refused to date me "because I was fat".  I was so stupid, that I remember actually thinking that if I just lost weight, he would like me.

There was a time that I was set up on a blind date with someone.  I didn't really click with him and didn't want to go out with him again.... his response? "Well, you are just a fat bitch anyways".

I remember when I finally got a diet to stick.  I ate cereal for two meals a day and then a healthy dinner {because cereal is so healthy right?}, and I biked no less than ten miles a day... every day.  I was back to a size four, and I felt pretty again. 

Someone actually said the following to me....

"Thank you for being skinny, not a lot of people your age do that."

I was 24.

I also heard "you age really well".  I was still 24 and had not started to age yet. 

Here is what is really sad.... I thought these were compliments.  For real.

You see, up until a couple of years ago, I thought I wasn't good enough.  I wanted to look like the Victoria's Secret models.  I wanted to be "hot".  Being pretty was an identity that everyone liked.  I mean, every time I spoke to another woman, it always at least touched on appearance.  We all had something that we wanted to change.

Here it is:
I am heavier than I wanted to be
My boobs aren't big enough
My nose is way too big
I had oily skin
My hair is too thin
My arms were too flabby
My thighs... don't even get me started on that
My butt is too flat

I mean, is there anything that I like about myself?

Your father tells me all the time how beautiful I am, but I honestly wondered how he could think such a crazy thought.  How could anyone think that I was beautiful?  I surely would never look like the girls in the magazines, so I would never be beautiful.  Even though I knew that the girls in the magazine, don't even look like the girls in the magazine.

It wasn't until 2015 when things changed for me.  I was pretty unhealthy.  I was the heaviest I had ever been {until being pregnant}.  I was a size 14, and got winded having my camera equipment on me.  I changed my goal.  I no longer wanted to be skinny... I wanted to be healthy.

In fact, I did get healthy.  I was a healthy size 10.  I worked out, I ate right, and if I stayed like that forever, I'd be good.  The best part is that I didn't look like the girls in the magazines, and I didn't starve myself, I didn't just eat salads for awhile, or cereal for two meals a day.

But then I got pregnant.  I heard all of the time how beautiful I was, when I was pregnant.  Even though my doctor told me to stop gaining weight... but dammit I wanted that cupcake, and so did you.  Right at the end, I tipped the scale at 209 pounds.

After you were born, I was excited to have stretch marks from you... they are beautiful.  I am a size 16 as I write this.  I have a double chin, my cheek bones are hiding, and I still look about four months pregnant.  This is normal for women post birth.  Don't think that you need to bounce back right away.  I actually had to listen to my mother on repeat for an entire weekend, that her body bounced back right after I was born.  Just what every new mom does NOT want to hear after having a baby.  But you will learn after some time, that your grandma sometimes makes comments like that.

So why am I publicly writing you this sob story?  I don't want this for you.  Right now,  you are three months old.  In fact, you are downstairs, in your father's arms fussing a little before bed.  I don't ever want you to not think you are beautiful.  Never doubt it for a second.  I hope you choose role models based on things other than appearance.  I hope no one ever thanks you for getting skinny, and more so, I hope you would see that as a massive insult, if they did, and stand up for yourself.

I want you to be healthy, but more than that, I want you to accept yourself.  I never want you to hate yourself... because gosh, I love you so.  I love you so much it hurts.

One more thing....  please be kind.  Please never judge women based on appearance.  Please never call another woman fat, or ugly, or hate her because she is not like you.  Don't be a part of the problem, be change.  I hope by the time you are old enough to understand this letter, the world is a more accepting place for you, but if not... be different.  People always remember kind, but they discard beautiful after awhile.

Ok, I would like to say that I am going to go downstairs right now to rescue you from your dad, who is currently singing the Pitch Perfect Soundtrack to you... but I am going to go smile, and maybe dance with the two of you... because I don't care what other people think I look like.  I mean, I am wearing a nightgown with owl pj pants, and I wear it well.