I AM Determined
By Jamie Dicken
I am fat, ugly and unable to attend life.
This was my mantra off and on for 30 years of my life. It started when I was right around 10 years old. I was in fourth grade and I was the fat kid. Looking back on it now, I understand that I probably wasn’t that fat. It was pre-puberty playing games with me. All my weight gathered in my middle waiting to get pushed up and down. But in that moment that is not how I saw my world. What I knew to be the absolute truth was that I didn’t look like everyone else.
Body image has affected my entire life. Although I grew up, found yoga and learned to accept that the person looking back at me in the mirror wasn’t exactly what other people see when looking at me didn’t make it any easier.
One night, I was sitting with my 10-year-old daughter and she started telling me that she didn’t want to wear a bikini to a friend’s birthday party because she felt that she was too fat. She didn’t look like the other girls in her class.
We journaled about it and I helped her work through it. On the outside, I was a good mom that night. On the inside, I was panicking. Ice water was running through my veins and panic was taking over my body. The cycle was starting again. But this time it was even more painful. This wasn’t me – this was my little girl.
I started to do some research and stumbled upon a study by NYU Child Study Center that said “Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are about 9 years old, then takes a nosedive”
Could it be true? This was what happened to me. My daughter has my same body type. I can tell her until I turn blue in the face that she is beautiful but right now no words were going to really change her perception of her world. What if someone says the wrong thing to her? What if I say the wrong thing to her???
And then it hit… My dharma… My purpose…
If we can teach 8-13 year olds what it took me to the age of 40 to figure out then maybe we can shift the self-esteem cycle. Maybe we can teach them to go within when faced with media images of perfection, bullies and frenemies. Maybe we can teach them to make healthy choices because they want to not because someone else is telling them to do it. Maybe we can help them find their voice and not allow themselves to be subjected to the next level of ridicule and self-hate now made possible in today’s world of instant messaging, texting and social media. Maybe we can help them connect with their spirit and learn to draw upon their family, community, and true self for support. Maybe we can shift that negative voice in their head to a positive voice that believes “I AM able to do anything”.
It was at this moment that Believe in She was born. I decided to begin this company as a Mother/Daughter journey. I became certified as a Life Coach, a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher for Adults and a certified Yoga Teacher for 8-13 year-old girls. My daughter also became the first ever tween to be certified as a Next Generation Yoga teacher. Our mission of Believe in She became to inspire moms and daughters to live happier and healthier lives by using yoga, journaling and open conversation to strengthen the mother/daughter bond and increase girls’ self-esteem.
Believe in She began as a mother/daughter passion project. My goal was to help my daughter and it worked. My beautiful girl started looking adults in the eyes again, shedding the baggy sweatshirts and being the happy confident girl I know and love.
My dream was to help my daughter and then my daughter’s friends. Our vision grew to helping our community and now it is our dream to create a movement to shift the self-esteem cycle for girls everywhere. I AM determined to make a difference. We hope you will join us on this journey.