Growing up I wasted a lot of time, confidence and opportunities thinking I wasn’t pretty enough. I remember the first time I thought I was fat. It was first grade and everyone was sitting with their legs extended out and I decided my legs were bigger than the girls’ next to me. I decided my legs were fat. Growing up my dad talked a lot about how if I’d only (run, not eat carbs, etc), I could look really good and would criticized women’s bodies out loud. My mom would grab parts of her body and criticize them in the mirror. Thanks to genetics, I learned I have those same “problem areas” too. When I was 16 some bad things happened in my life and I needed to feel in control. So I adopted an eating disorder. I didn’t have my period for 18 months and got pleasure from counting how many bones pushed through my skin. I found some balance when I started running. I started appreciating my body for what it could do more than just what it looked like. Still, I clung to numbers on the scale and would emotional eat to cope with my feelings. In a moment I could write you a list of what is “wrong” with my body or the things I want to change. I could tell you the number I wish saw on the scale and at exactly what weight I start to hate my body. Because of my imperfect body, I’ve starved myself. I’ve over-exercised myself. I’ve said horrible things to myself in the mirror. I’ve cried over the scale. I’ve said no to sex with my husband. I’ve taken weeks off swimming because I didn’t want to get in a swimsuit. I’ve compared myself to my friends and I’ve put myself down in front of others. I’d like to say it stopped when I started CrossFit. It definitely got better. The entire CrossFit culture favors strength over looks, though vanity and judgment still sneak in. Then I got pregnant. I went through quite a love/hate journey adapting to my changing body. At first I covered myself up from Richard and dealt with a lot of fat talk. Now I’ve grown to be so proud of what my body is doing, even if my body is even farther from the perfect ideal I’ve wanted it to look like for so long. Now I know my body is strong and beautiful and capable. I’ve wasted a whole lot of time thinking I wasn’t beautiful. And, funny enough, chasing a certain ideal of beauty kept me from discovering what my own beauty was. It kept me from being strong. I absolutely cringe thinking of my daughter ever having some of the thoughts I’ve had, ever thinking she’s not good enough because a part of her body isn’t how she thinks it should be. I want my little girl to get lost in books, to run free, to laugh, to dream, to ask questions, to share, to love and to strive to make the world a better place. And I know fat talk will never get her there. Instead of comparing herself to other girls, I want her to befriend them. Instead of hating her legs, I want her to see what they can do for her. Instead of thinking she should weigh a certain number, I want her to be thankful she is alive. I know I’m not perfect and I will mess up. I may struggle with my post-baby body and I may even talk down about myself in front of her. But I want her to know that before I even meet her I think she is the most beautiful girl. I want her to know that she was made from love and that she is enough, without ever doing anything. I want her to know she will always be beautiful and that we will love discovering who she is and who she grows to become. I want her to know that she was perfect and beautiful before she was even born and nothing she does in her life will ever change that.