May 11, 2023

A Mother's Day Letter to My Daughter: What I Hope for You and Your Body

A Mother's Day Letter to My Daughter: What I Hope for You and Your Body

This letter was written by Equip Lead Peer Mentor Zaynah Mahon to her baby daughter, Naomi.

Dear Naomi,

You are growing up in a world full of so many wonderful things to discover. Right now, you’re finding your fingers and toes, learning to hold up your head to see the colors that paint the sky in blues, grays, pinks, and purples, and you’re growing stronger every single day. I’m so in awe of how you ask for what you need in the purest way. Watching you be a baby is the coolest thing—and it’s bittersweet. I’m watching you grow up in a world that will tell you that your body is wrong. That it’s too big, too dark, too this or too that. I don’t want that for you and here’s why:

Pursuing societal appearance ideals are costly; I know this, because I spent about 20 years doing so. I’ve missed out on being mentally and physically present at events with family and friends for most of my life because I was terrified of how I looked or what people would think of me. It’s terrifying to believe that people you love could take that love away from you because you’ve gained weight.

And I did gain weight. But I gained so much more along with it. I gained knowledge, wisdom, experiences, education, friends, and joy. Unfortunately, society is focused on what our bodies look like, and equates the amount of body fat we have with how successful or happy we are. I want you to know that this is a lie. You don’t have to chase this. Your joy is yours regardless of what shape your body takes in any given season of your life.

One of the more important parts of myself that I lost while pursuing society’s appearance ideals was my connection to my physical body. I had an eating disorder between the ages of 15 and 22, and it almost killed me. I would have died to be skinny, and I don’t want that for you. You deserve a life bursting with excitement about being alive, joy around food, and peace with your body. At the very least, I want you to respect your body enough to disregard any ideal that requires you to shrink yourself to be accepted. Or that tells you that an eating disorder is preferable to a fat body if it means being loved by people you don’t even really like in the first place. You deserve better, Naomi.

While losing weight, I also lost my values and stopped behaving in ways that aligned with them. Chasing the thin ideal made me mean, and it made me hate people who had the body I was afraid of living in again. When I was thin I was miserable, but I thought I was better than the girls who were bigger than me. There’s no room left in this world for more mean girls, Naomi. And trying to keep pace with the idea that skinny girls always finish first will only leave you lonely, bitter, and hating yourself. I want you to feel at peace and in love with yourself in ways that I never did and at a younger age than I was able to even start. Letting go of the appearance ideals that kept me miserable and cost me time, money, happiness, and so many important parts of who I am was the best decision I ever made.

You can choose to look the other way. You can choose to pursue your own ideal.

With love and hope that you grow up in a kinder world,

Your Mom

Zaynah Mahon
Zaynah Mahon

Peer Mentor

About Equip

Equip is a virtual eating disorder treatment program helping families recover from eating disorders at home. Equip’s holistic, data-driven, gold-standard care program is delivered by a team of five care professionals, giving families confidence they’re providing the best opportunity for progress and lasting recovery.

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