one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

When toddlers teach you about self-acceptance March 20, 2013

Fun house mirrors. They are everywhere. From Coney Island and haunted house attractions to pediatricians’ offices and the baby room at my job. Looking in one mirror, my 5’2″ frame becomes Goliath-like. Another turns me into Violet Beauregarde after her ill-fated chewing gum incident. Fun house mirrors make you look at the reflection in them in a different way than you would normally view it. They distort your perception of reality by forcing you into this new view of yourself. The mirrors force you to confront your previous perception of yourself compared to what is reflected in the fun house mirror  These differences in views are a lot like what it is like to have an eating disorder.

As I continue on in my recovery, I realize how true the comparison between fun house mirrors and confronting recovery can really be. Recently, at work, in an effort to console (or at least distract) and crying toddler, I put her in front of the fun house mirror. I did this simply because no amount of toys, bubbles or cheerios seemed to lessen the severity of her crying and I was running out of ideas. When her red, tear-streaked face stared back at her from inside the fun house mirror, the crying suddenly ceased. She timidly put a chubby hand on the mirror’s surface; carefully patting her reflection. This would be the point when she would be be questioning the difference between her prior perceptions and her current reality of her appearance. She paused. Her hand dropped. A peal of laughter rang out from her baby belly. Every time she looked at her face, she giggled in delight. The fun house mirror is nothing more than a mirror to this little girl.

I wonder, when do we lose this innocence and self-acceptance. This baby was absolutely thrilled to see her face in the mirror and loved what was reflected back to her. Whereas, I kept trying to hold her in front of me so I did not have to see myself reflected back. I hated what I saw, what I see. I go out of my way to avoid mirrors so as not to be reminded of my appearance. However, this one-year-old embraced the reflection and adored what she saw. I want to be more like this baby. I want to look in the mirror and have enough self-acceptance to like what I see instead of treating my reflection like Frankenstein’s monster. I want to embrace my body, and everything it does for me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson states, “Make the most of yourself…for that is all there is of you”. There is only one you in this entire universe. You bring so many unique characteristics, likes, talents, skills and gifts to this world. And the world deserves to see that. I am going to  accept myself for who God intended me to be, a messy beautiful creation all His own. He never intended me to be perfect. He only wants me to love; love Him, love others and love MYSELF. From now on, I am going to take this child’s approach to life and learn to embrace who I really am outside of my appearance and my ED.
Proverbs 31:25 and 30-31

25: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

30-31: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


I took this photo of some baby I do not even know at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. I feel it speaks to this post. In the midst of all the violence, destruction  and hate that had been at this site, this baby finds the good in the situation by finding a nice place for a quick crawl…plus it is in front of the reflection pond where you can see his beautifully unique and perfectly imperfect self reflected in the water.


3 Responses to “When toddlers teach you about self-acceptance”

  1. lauriesnotes Says:

    Perfectly imperfect…Love it.
    My daughter is 4 and loves to stand on the scale. She is so pleased that she is growing and getting a higher number.

    • rheasofhope Says:

      I am glad to hear that she is so happy in her body. There is something absolutely wonderful about children’s innocence and body acceptance. My students get stickers when they go to the “potty” (as we are working on potty training) and a lot of the kids proudly display their sticker on their round little bellies. They are so self-aware (they know that stickers on their stomachs are easier to see), yet they are so proud of their growing bodies. Your daughter sounds wonderful. Have a wonderful day. Take care!

      • lauriesnotes Says:

        You too-
        II used to work with little ones. Big ones too. It’s good practice for healing ourselves. They have much to teach us 🙂
        Much love-

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