Esme's Feet: A Journey to Self Love Through the Example of My Daughter.

This piece debuted as a part of an amazing project called Listen To Your Mother, a national movement of live storytelling aimed at giving motherhood a microphone. Pre Show Set Photo by Joy Yagid Photography

I was honored to be chosen as a cast member in the North Jersey Production.

North Jersey Cast Photo by Joy Yagid Photography

I would like to thank Sandy Rustin & Deborah Goldstein for the opportunity to share in this amazing evening of storytelling.

Esme's Feet Photo by Joy Yagid Photography

For those of you who were not able to see the live performance, you can read the piece below.

My daughter's 2 day old foot My son's almost 5 year old foot July '09

My daughter has beautiful feet. And sometimes when she lobs a leg over me, when she is sleeping in my bed, I catch a glimpse of that perfectly arched ballerina pointe, and it makes me cry a little. That beautiful foot that is attached to her perfect little leg and her glorious round four year old belly, and then I happen to look at her cherubic sleeping face, and it just kills me. All that beauty, that innocent sleeping, flaxen haired beauty.

And I want her to love how she looks, just the way I do. I want her to see her body as it grows and changes through the eyes of her mama, who thinks she is the most lovely little girl that could be. And, I am deeply afraid that somehow I'm going to somehow mess it all up for her.

See, I get confused when I look in the mirror. And, often I resent those nagging parts that my own mother really hated about her body too. Wide end, fat thighs, doughy knees, long in the torso, with squat little stumps for legs. My mother was always chiding herself with regard to her size. She was petite, yes. But, she loathed her legs and feet. Tree stumps with duck paddles.

I have always hated my wide feet, as well. I have not thanked them enough for their sturdy foundation, but cursed them many times for not fitting into cute shoes. And the feet are just the beginning of my history of bottom-centric self-loathing. As a little girl, my knees were so fat that my cheeks were overlooked, when pinching aunties were nearby. They called me tank. I stretched out as I reached school age, but those early triggers held on. Shorts were off my list throughout my entire 20s. I just didn’t show my knees. Period.

You may be shaking your head right now. You may be saying--"No, that's not right. Your mom had a great little figure, she was teeny and strong. Or, Stephanie, you must be high." And you may be seeing the situation more clearly than Mom or I have ever been able to do.

I struggle with self love and self acceptance with regard to my body on a daily basis. And, having a daughter that is built in precisely the same manner that I am, my sister is, and our mother also was, has presented, NO--demanded an opportunity to change this thinking.

I see her, my little daughter, and I want her to love herself. Every bit of herself, her kindness, her humor, her ease, her goofiness, and her beautiful little body--all of it.

So, I have to reframe, to reshape, to reform the ways in which I think, speak, and ultimately feel about my body. I need to do it for her, and I need to do it for me.

I must learn to celebrate the wonder of a body which birthed two extra large babies, the old fashioned way. A body who used to be able to bend in almost any way without effort or strain, and continues to move in most ways I ask it to.  A body that can get me where I need to go, on a regular basis. A body that presents to the world, an image of who I am.

And then, I see my shape in my daughter’s little form--how adorable she looks in her pants. How strong she is, and how well built and well knit she is--how she moves with such abandon.

My hope is that my daughter will have love and gratitude for the body she been blessed with, that the two are simpatico. And, one day, I hope to thank her for HER example--her beautiful truth--that by simply inhabiting her lovely little self, it was revealed to her mommy that she too, must have been beautiful all along.

Mom and I 1977. Ocean City, MD