*Editor’s Note 2/11/17: Jodie Patterson will soon be releasing a debut memoir titled THE BOLD WORLD: A Memoir of Family and Identity 

When I was young, Mama would have us stand in front of a full-length mirror in nothing more than a tank top and underwear. She’d have us stare at ourselves for a very long time. This was a game she made up called I Love Myself, and it was just for us girls. Daddy made sure not to disturb us during I-Love-Myself time and he surely didn’t dare participate. This was girl-time.

I’d stand in front of the mirror, body straight, and quietly look at myself for what felt like an eternity. At first, it was awkward, and I’d stare intensely into my eyes, as if to say, “Ok, image, Mama’s making us do this. Let’s not be too critical of each other.” Once my eyes gave me a warm glance back, I’d move on. With my eyes, I’d trace the form and outline of my entire body – inch by inch, curve by curve. By the time I was six years old, I could tell you exactly the place where my fingertips reached my thighs, how my ears resembled Peter Pan’s ears and how my lips looked like upside down bananas. My eyes took in everything.

From there, Mama would say, “Ok, Jodie, go for it,” and I’d know just what to do next. I’d wrap my arms around myself, hugging myself, and say out loud: “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.” Over and over again, “I love myself.” Then it was inevitable; I’d be laughing and smiling all the while, staring at my very own image in the mirror.

We played the I Love Myself game all through high school. And by the time I was off to college, Mama had blurred out all the pointless noise filling our heads of body and image insecurities as young girls. Instead she replaced them with simple words of love.

A #Beautyfullreminder: I love ME. I love ME. I love ME.

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Jodie Patterson is in the business of IDENTITY & here to help ignite both inner & outer beauty. Co-Founder of Doobop.com + Georgiany.com. Instagram: @JodiePatterson