I've started telling my daughters I'm beautiful

November 13 | Guest post by Amanda
By: LeyCC BY 2.0
I've started telling my girls that I think I'm beautiful. It's been so easy to tell them how beautiful THEY are, because it's obvious. They are the thing beauty is made of. They are the reason we started worshipping beauty. They sparkle and dance. When they're sleeping, they turn into soft cloud babies, little perfect tufts of white on the moonlight.

There are a lot of people like me. Women who know things. Women who have seen things. Women with diseases in their livers. There are a lot of women with scars on their arms and words that carry themselves like sparrows. There are women who were too big for this town, who had their backs bent carrying things like religion and a history that originated somewhere in the crook of a branch that extended over a stream. A place where a patch of the sky was visible through the leaves, where a little girl let her bare leg dangle too far down.

There are a lot of people like me, because we're all the same. We're all blood and electricity. We're lonely under the gaze of god. We're all wet with dew and swallowing hard against DO THIS, CONSUME, SHUT UP and BE AFRAID to die.

All of you women with lines on your brow, with cracks between your fingers… it's been a long winter. All of you, you are beautiful and so am I.

Long Island Children's Museum
Photo by Barbara Reggio

The thing is, my children are perfect. I am the grown up, so I'm supposed to show them everything about life. When they wake up in the morning, though, I stare at them and they're new. They teach me everything. They are babies and they teach me what it means to be a person. It's easy to see that they're beautiful.

I am slow and I am tired. I am round and sagging. I am harried. I am sexless. I am getting older.

I am beautiful. How can this be? How can any of this be true?

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."

You Are Beautiful print by Etsy seller iolabs
You Are Beautiful print by Etsy seller iolabs

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.

How confusing it must have been to have me say to them, "You think I am beautiful, but you are wrong. You are small and you love me, so you're not smart enough to know how unattractive I am. I know I am ugly because I see myself with mean eyes. You are my child and I love you, but I will not allow myself to be pretty, for you. No matter how shining you are when you watch me brushing my hair and pulling my dress over my head. No matter how much you want to be just like me, I can't be beautiful for you and I don't know why."

It's working, a little bit. I've even stopped hating myself, a little bit.

I'll be what they see. They see me through eyes of love. I'd do anything for them, even this.

I am beautiful.


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  1. I couldn't have read this at a more appropriate time. Today I looked in the mirror and I didn't even recognize myself . Of course I felt like crap and grew sad but children pick up on these emotions and I don't want these lame feelings to get in the way. The bad feelings, the negativity is what makes everything ugly. My time with my son and family is too precious to waste.

    1 agrees
  2. This article is BEAUTIFUL! Had me in tears. And you are right! We are all beautiful to our children and they are the ones who matter, who's opinions matter.

    "Beauty must be defined as what we are or the concept itself is our enemy!"

    Thank you.xx

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  3. Well said. I have an 11 year old boy who is a string bean but already says he's 'fat'. I also have a 2 year old beautiful little girl. There is so much peer pressure on kids today to be the perfect size 0, or to have the 6 pack. I have many scars on my arms and had a far from idyllic child hood with kids homes etc. I try not to be self critical in front of my kids as I want them to grow up thinking they are beautiful, whatever shape or size they end up. I also want my son to see women come in all shapes and sizes but are still attractive and beautiful. It's a cruel and judgemental world we live in

    1 agrees
  4. It would have done wonders for my worldview if my mother had called herself beautiful, rather than tearing apart every last detail of herself in front of me. As an adult, I'm still unpacking the damage done as a result.

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  6. I was so blown away by this piece. You are a talented writer and have really had an impact on me. Kids look up to us so much and thanks to this post, I have changed the way I am presenting myself, or at least remembering that we are their first introductions to "society" and collective values and things like that. Why not promote beauty instead of ugliness? Thanks so much!

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  7. Possibly the most important thing that has ever happened to me was waking up the other morning to a 5 month old watching me sleep. When she saw my eyes were open, she laughed. To see myself as she and her sister see me is my main goal in life.

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