I Hated My Body Growing Up, And I Don't Want My Child To Feel The Same Way"I want to teach him that everyone is beautiful, to see the good side of people, instead of focusing on their flaws."CREATED WITH DOVE
For many, self-acceptance takes time. We are our own worst critics, where we tend to compare things like looks or achievements to that of others.
Eventually, though, you’ll discover that you can’t be like them, which might make you feel disappointed. But something good can come out of this experience. It just might not seem that way — at least, not at first.
This is culinary chef and mom-of-one Ira Jimenez’s story of self-love and acceptance.
High school wallflower
Growing up, it was all about fitting in. Ira, 35, remembers her high school days and shares how studying in an all-girls school did anything but boost her self-esteem.
“It really hit my body confidence,” she recounts. “I was a plus-size student, so I constantly compared myself to other girls who were skinnier or had smoother skin than me.”
Ira would attend high school soirees but only stuck with her barkada throughout the party. She refused to meet boys because she was too shy to talk to them. “I was that girl who stayed quiet in the corner and listened to music, so I didn’t have to talk to anyone,” she shares.
When she entered college and pursued culinary arts, Ira remained shy and unsure of herself. But soon enough, she let go of her insecurities as she realized that “there was no pressure. No one was judging anyone based on their physical appearance, and everyone was just accepted for who they were.”
And so Ira started to accept her weight, and she no longer minded what other people might think of it. She shares, “Some of my classmates were taking the course as a second major already, so I think having a more mature set of friends made me realize that looks weren’t the only thing that mattered.
“Through the industry I chose, that’s also where I realized that being plus size is a normal thing, so it’s a win-win situation.”
Now a mom to a 5-year-old boy named Lucas, Ira hopes her son will grow up confident. He’s still at an age where it’s all about play, and he doesn’t care about his physical appearance or how he dresses.
“I want to teach him that everyone is beautiful, to see the good side of people, instead of focusing on their flaws,” she says. “I have a very optimistic view in life now, and I believe that plays well for me as a mom. I hope to influence him with the same positivity.”
Ira adds, “I want to tell Lucas: Don’t change yourself to feel validated by other people. Be the person you’re meant to be instead of someone you’re not, and love yourself, most of all.”
If there’s one lesson parents should impart to their kids, it’s this: They are enough. As a parent, you may overlook this by comparing your child’s growth with that of other children their age. To this, Ira advises, “Let them learn and grow at their own pace, then celebrate the small wins. Enjoy your kid’s achievements, and tell them it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you guide them where they went wrong, so they can learn to get back up.”
Children tend to model themselves after their parents. This means your child’s outlook in life mainly depends on how you see it. So show them they are loved and accepted, and they will grow to love and accept themselves, too.
Teach your children at an early age to respect one another and that making fun of other kids for how they look isn’t showing kindness. Help them build their self-esteem and encourage them to love their bodies, just the way it is.
More than half of young girls around the world have low self-esteem and body confidence, but the Dove Self-Esteem Project aims to change their mindset in pursuit of raising more #ConfidentGirls. The initiative teaches kids to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, and inspires the next generation to establish a positive relationship with the way they look to help raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential.