I’ve started telling my daughters I’m beautiful

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

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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Comments on I’ve started telling my daughters I’m beautiful

  1. thank you – i decided my mom was beautiful when others would say i should be ashamed of her – i decided not to let other people tell me how i should or shouldnt love the woman who gives me everything – and she loved herself more because i was 12 and telling her i loved her no matter what anyone said – and i meant it.

  2. Such a beautiful post and such an important decision. The first time I ever heard my mom criticize her body I was probably about twenty. I was shocked to hear the typical, “I hate my thighs” from her, but it made me realize how lucky I was that she had never said that kind of thing in front of me when I was a girl. That sort of negative body-talk just did not exist in our home, and I’m so grateful to her for that.

  3. This is one of the most important things I have ever read. It is forcing me to admit I am beautiful, always have been and always will be. The most significant people in my life know I am. Even casual friends reflect our shared beauty. Strangers sometimes even think I am. Why has it taken this beautiful confession to see that I could actually believe it too. Thank you.

  4. YES! This is so important. I grew up in a culture and household where women did not embrace their beauty. I grew up seeing my mom, who is wonderful and strong and a model in many ways, be afraid of her body. It took me a long time to crawl out under that. I know now that if I am lucky to have daughters I will teach them the opposite – to not be afraid of their bodies, to not feel as if they have to perfect.

  5. Awesome post! I have two little boys but as I was thinking about it, I think it’s probably just as important for me to put this on display for them also. THEY need to know what a confident, beautiful woman looks like…and no, it’s not like those Victoria Secret models! I want them to love a woman comfortable in her own skin! Their future wives can thank me later 😉

  6. Wow! Awesome idea, and one that should already be natural and make so much sense! Women are neurotic as FK at the best of times, but I hadn’t even considered all the “Look how fat Mommy is” type stuff that can have such a massive effect (or is that ‘affect’?) on our children! They see you as The Best whatever, and it’s only us who beat that out of them by saying THIS girl is beautiful – you Mom is wrinkled and has stretch marks…”

  7. I saw a link come through a few weeks ago on Facebook, but failed to read the blog entry, mostly because I have a boy. However, it stuck in my craw: why shouldn’t I tell him that I am beautiful? It’s just as important to raise men who see *real* women for their worth as to raise women to see their own, right? So, I’ve started telling my *son* that I’m beautiful 🙂

  8. Thank you for writing this. Thank you, thank you. I can’t wait to talk about this with my beautiful spouse (and to model this way of being in the world with my beautiful daughter!). Peace to you and yours.

  9. This was beautifully put. I know in my heart I shouldn’t be commenting on my weight or my unhappiness with my looks in front of my three daughters (ages 7, 9, 10) but Im guilty. I need to challenge myself and compliment myself in front of them, show them my confidence. Thank you for this great reminder… Priceless words

  10. For many months, my son had been calling me “Squommy.” It’s short for Squishy Mommy. One day I said to him, “Dear son, I’m not certain that I like being called Squishy Mommy.” He looked very confused and a little sad, and this little boy who adores all things squishy said, “But I *love* my Squommy.” So now we’re both a little older, and I go by “Squom.”

  11. This is exquisitely written. Absolutely perfectly articulated, and works out the complexities that it SHOULD in a way that drives it so deeply home that it is now real enough to employ. THANK YOU. THIS. This thing you have created with your word magic. I am now ready to do the thing I knew I should but didn’t feel right about doing. Now I know I will. And why. And boldly. Thank you so much.

  12. I am so glad you wrote this article. I don’t have enough words to express how true and wonderful this article is. You have renewed my desire to keep fighting to “model impossible beauty ” not only for myself and my daughters, but also for my son, husband and everyone I meet. I will challenge them to do the same. Thank you for this… Truly inspirational.

  13. Dear Amanda,

    Thank you! Thank you for your beautiful words, for the tears that are now running down my face and the reminder that MY beauty is in the eye of the beholder – starting with me.

    What a beautiful way to start my day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  14. I was agreeing with you 100% until the end. “I’ve even stopped hating myself, a little bit”. I am really concerned about this phrase. NO ONE should hate themselves, whether they are beautiful or not, or are told they are beautiful or not, or think they are beautiful or not. This is not healthy, and believe it or not, your daughters will pick up on the fact that you hate yourself. I strongly suggest you get some outside help with your self-loathing.

    I myself have struggled with that a lot. But I finally decided that even though I may not be beautiful I have a lot of other things going for me and I love myself for that.

    • Something about this is that I’m a writer. I’m not an expert on beauty or parenting or anything. When I wrote this, I used a turn of phrase to express how I was feeling, not believing that the whole world would read what I’d written. I don’t believe this piece is something to be agreed or disagreed with. It is just something that was true for me, when I wrote it.

      I am beautiful, even conventionally. I don’t “hate myself” because I’m not beautiful. I was saying that I believe that every woman in America believes terrible things about themselves, whether it’s ongoing or fleeting. We all “hate ourselves” when we look in the mirror and think, “I look disgusting.” There isn’t anything wrong with me that isn’t wrong with everyone. I don’t hate myself, especially, or any differently than everyone else.

  15. Thank you. Really, really thank you. I have two daughters who are so wonderfully confident and certain of themselves and I am terrified they will grow out of it. I need to be their role model.

  16. Wow what a wonderful post, you are so insightful and truthful. Why is it so hard for women to embrace their beauty? All of us need to grab hold of our womanhood and revel in it.

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