I came across a blog post the other day that made me cry. Maybe you’ve already seen it because I posted it on my Facebook page (and it appears to have been shared about a million times around the ‘net with good reason!), but I looked over it again just now and it is such a powerful and beautiful piece with an incredible message – I had to share it here on the blog!
The article is called “I’ve Started Telling My Daughters I’m Beautiful“.
In it, the author describes her realization that every time she talks about her flabby arms, or those wrinkles on her face, or disagrees when her daughters tell her she’s pretty, she is teaching them to grow up and hate themselves.
Except the way she said it was, like, way more poetic than that. So I highly suggest just going and reading it.
“I don’t want my girls to be children who are perfect and then, when they start to feel like women, they remember how I thought of myself as ugly and so they will be ugly too. They will get older and their breasts will lose their shape and they will hate their bodies, because that’s what women do. That’s what mommy did. I want them to become women who remember me modeling impossible beauty. Modeling beauty in the face of a mean world, a scary world, a world where we don’t know what to make of ourselves.
“Look at me, girls!” I say to them. “Look at how beautiful I am. I feel really beautiful, today.”
I see it behind their eyes, the calculating and impression. I see it behind their shining brown eyes, how glad they are that I believe I am beautiful. They love me. To them, I am love and guidance and warm, soft blankets and early mornings. They have never doubted how wonderful I am. They have never doubted my beauty. How confusing it must have been for them to see me furrowing my brow in the mirror and sucking in my stomach and sighing.”
I’m not a mother yet, but I plan to be one day. Putting self esteem in this context is really interesting. We would never hope that our sons or daughters grew up to feel bad about themselves and the way they look. But if we just leave them to the current state of media and it’s impossible standard of fake beauty, there is no chance that they won’t.
Where else aside from the media would children learn a healthy model of self esteem?
That’s right… you! Us! Me! The parents!
I’ve actually never really thought about this before, and what it was that I learned about self esteem from my mom.
If I think back, luckily I never recall her putting herself down or complaining about her body in front of me. I’m thankful for that. But I don’t remember her ever telling me that she was beautiful. To be honest, I actually have no idea how she feels about herself.
So it is hard to pinpoint exactly what I learned from her, but she did all the usual beauty and grooming routines – putting on makeup, shaving her legs, packing on the moisturizer to prevent wrinkles.
This was considered all very normal. As I became a teenager, I did all these things too. But I was never told why we were doing them. I was never told that there is any distinction between grooming for ourselves vs grooming so that others will approve of us. I must have picked up the idea somewhere along the way that it was important to do these things in order to live up to society’s expectations (which had then become our own expectations), because I was never told otherwise.
I’m guessing this was not my mother’s intention for me, nor that it was her fault. But as a result, I just assumed that it was normal and perfectly fine to feel bad anything that deviated from the “perfect” body types, skin types, facial features, or even personality traits, that are portrayed in every ad, magazine, and billboard. (PS – if you are interested in seeing an amazingly beautiful gallery of images that show what real women’s bodies look like, please click here. Although, maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work or something… wait till you get home!)
It seems as though there is really no way for young people to not get the message that they are ugly and imperfect, unless our parents show us that they are beautiful and attractive and loveable – even with sagging breasts, frizzy hair, and cellulite up the yin yang. I can only imagine how powerful it would have been as a child to actually hear my mom or dad say in earnestness “I love myself. I think I’m really fantastic.”
Give Yourself As Much Love As You’d Give Your Child
From what I understand, when you have a child, you love them more than anything. You would do anything for them. If after reading this lady’s article and you realize what a model you are for your children, you may even stop putting yourself down in their presence, and start telling them you’re beautiful. For them. Because you love them. Because you don’t want to see them grow up and hate themselves like you do.
But if you have children or not, this article really makes you want to model “impossible beauty” for yourself (at least for me it does). If you loved yourself, you would. Just like you’d do it for your children. Because at one time, you too were that innocent little child who thought your mommy was beautiful, even if she didn’t think so – never thinking you were going to grow up to be any less beautiful, but look what happened. Life sideswiped you with its messages of fear.
Have some compassion for yourself and that child you once were.
And hey, loving yourself doesn’t only have to be for you or your children… you can also be role model for your friends, your family, and all the men and women out there who will sense your beauty shining through – as unconventional and offbeat as it might be – and be inspired to love themselves as well.
Next post, I’m going to write about how you can start on the road to loving yourself, and give you some specifics here. I know “Loving Yourself” is one of those annoyingly vague concepts that gets thrown around making you feel like ‘uh… what does that really mean and how do I do that?!’ Stay tuned to da Love Vitamin
Watch Me Talk About All This in Video
Did your mom, or dad, love themselves or hate themselves? How did they model beauty and self esteem for you?