Moms, when you talk about your body, your kids are listening.
That’s the message behind one mother’s powerful Facebook post that recently went viral.
Brittney Johnson, a mom in Columbia, Missouri, described going bikini shopping at Target with her 4-year-old daughter, Payton, in tow.
As Johnson tried on a swimsuit, Payton also grabbed a bikini top.
“See that sweet baby girl in the corner? With half a dress on and one of the bikini tops I had picked out?” Johnson wrote in the post. “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?!’”
At that moment, Johnson had an epiphany: She realized that Payton spoke kindly about her own body because she does, too.
“It hit me that she only says what she hears. What she sees,” Johnson wrote. “I tell her that she is beautiful every single day.”
“I think that my voice becomes her inner voice,” she added in an email to TODAY Style. “I want that to always be an encouraging voice.”
For Johnson, this dressing room moment was an important reminder that her own behavior has a huge impact on how her daughter treats others — and herself.
“[Payton] is kind walking through the mall, because I tell her she is kind everywhere else,” Johnson wrote on Facebook. “She is polite at the order counter because she hears me when I'm polite to strangers everywhere … 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 daughter’s brain.”
Johnson’s Facebook post has racked up nearly half a million likes and shares, and her inspiring words struck a chord with many moms.
“I try to instill the same confidence and kindness in my little one, too,” one woman commented on her post. “Even though my first thoughts about my appearance are negative sometimes, I have to stop myself and replace the self-effacing comments with appreciative ones.”
“You are gorgeous inside and out,” another mom wrote. “Your daughter has a great role model. Thank you for this. I can only hope I can do this for my daughter as well.”
Johnson has some simple, powerful advice for other moms hoping to raise their daughters to feel great about themselves.
“Be honest and be positive,” Johnson told TODAY. “I tell [Payton] the truth and I tell her she's beautiful, and that's why she trusts me and is confident.”
Setting a good example for her daughter has also helped Johnson stay positive about her own body, she added.
“I have learned ... in teaching her about her own body, how I should see mine,” she said. “Women's bodies are wonderful. They are strong and powerful and deserve to feel like it.”
We couldn’t agree more. Here's to great moms like Johnson raising happy, confident daughters!