We can’t wait for the day when stories about women celebrating their bodies exactly as they look are old news. But we’re not there yet, not even close — so we were moved by one Missouri mother’s Facebook post about modeling a happy body image for her daughter in the familiar setting of a dressing room.
Brittney Johnson and her toddler daughter were in Target trying on swimsuits — not always the most soothing way to spend an hour for a lot of women.
“We picked out 11. Yeah. ELEVEN,” Johnson said. “Walked into the dressing room… and [she] started unhooking the swimsuits from the hangers and yelling ‘I can see your butt!’ for the whole dressing room to hear.” (Ah, the joys of shopping with toddlers.)
Johnson snapped photos of herself in each of the suits to send to her friends for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down (hey, what are BFFs for?). She also captured her daughter trying on one of her bikini tops. What her daughter said knocked her out. Us too:
“I stopped for a second to see what she would say and when she turned to the mirror, she said ‘Wow I just love cheetah print! I think I look beautiful! Do you think I look beautiful too?!'” Johnson recalled.
BAM. The apple definitely doesn’t fall far from the tree. Johnson realized her own generally positive, openhearted attitude has made a real and lasting impression on her little girl.
“I tell her that she is beautiful every single day. She is kind walking through the mall, because I tell her she is kind everywhere else. She is polite at the order counter because she hears me when I’m polite to strangers everywhere. She gives compliments to people she doesn’t know because she loves how it feels when she hears them,” Johnson said. “And when we are in a dressing room, with swimsuits of all God forsaken things, there is a split moment when I have the power to say ‘wow I have really gotten fat this year’ OR ‘wow I love this coral color on me!’ And those are the words burned into my daughters [sic] brain.”
What a fantastic reminder for all of us. Nice going, Mama.
Johnson wrapped up her Facebook post with a beautiful, empowering message for all moms.
“And when it comes to body image, be an example. I am not a size zero. I never will be. I have big thighs and a huge rump and for some reason the middle of my body gets more tan than the rest? But this body made a whole other body. I am strong. I am able. And I am happy. I don’t have to be beautiful like you, because I am beautiful like me.”
Her post has been shared over 118,000 times. Was Johnson surprised by all the internet attention? Well, yes and no. “How many moms go into a dressing room with a restless toddler only to catch them criticizing themselves?” she said. “My daughter deserves to know that we’re all different but all still beautiful, and even on our bad days I think most moms want their kids to feel the same way. I’m an average girl, of average size, doing the best I can to be a good momma, and that is the same as just about any other momma I know.”
We think Johnson is definitely succeeding at her mission. And her daughter is one lucky little girl. Now we just want to know which bathing suits they wound up with. What? We liked the coral and leopard-print ones too.