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. Such a fantastic post!! I try so hard to lead by example with my perfect son, but for some reason I didn’t take the same route when trying to teach him about inner beauty! I’m forever telling him how beyond gorgeous he is, but you’ve now inspired me to teach him to love himself by following in the footsteps of his Mum. Saying “I am beautiful” is easier said than done – but you’ve inspired me to try harder!

  2. I cannot properly expressed how much I LOVE this blog. I suffered through severe body image and eating disorder issues for most of my life before finding recovery and can tell you that believing that our beauty comes from WHO we are and not what we look like is so powerful and that our “flaws” are what make us special and unique. I am a body image advocate and just wrote my first book “The Body Image Survival Guide: Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive” (The book I wish my mom had had when I was struggling and she felt so helpless). I am so moved by the strength and compassion in your words. Thank You! :o)

  3. Yes, loving my little 4-year old girl is easy; loving my own self is hard. Great conversation the other day: “Mommy, your boobs hang way down!” “Well, that’s what grown-up lady boobs do.” “I want MY boobs to hang down! Why don’t they hang down?” “You’re just the right size for you. Your boobs will hang down when you’re a grown up.” I WANT THEM TO HANG DOWN NOW!! WAAAAAHH!” (Tears!) Needless to say, I was snorting with laughter, but tried to cover it with sympathetic mom-noises. Still my favorite story. 🙂

    • That is a great story! Boobs hanging down means you have lived a good life, possibly supported little people’s livelihood through those hanging boobs. Hanging boobs are a good thing. What a perspective changer!

  4. This is something every woman needs to hear. Even those women we see in the world who seem to have it all together, the ones that judge us because we aren’t wearing the latest styles or can’t fit into a size 00 or shop at discount stores for clothing. In fact, I would say some of these women need to hear it even more. Many of them judge us because they do not feel pretty themselves so they feel the need to bring us to their level in their eyes. It is how they feel pretty and worthwhile. However, there is more than one way to do this, and we all need to realize that if we lift ourselves and each other up instead of bringing others down, we will all be better for it.

  5. It’s funny how when I feel a certain way about myself, I suddenly stumble acroos posts that mimic my new found perspectives.

    I’m 33 with an 8 year old son, who tells me daily that “I’m the best Mom in the world” and that “I’m beautiful”, yet no matter how many times he tells me this, I could never quite honestly believe him. He’s my son, my child, he doesn’t know any different is was I would tell myself.

    It wasn’t until I actually started looking at myself in the mirror nd no matter what I looked like, whether my eyes are bloodshot from not getting enough sleep, or my stomach is rather large one day because of something I ate, or my breats are starting to sag a little because I’m getting older, as long as I started telling myself that I am beautiful and that I love and accept myself, everything else seemed to be okay and I could deal with myself with a better level of understanding.

    At first it was really hard for me to look at myself, I would want to turn away, I wasn’t feeling what I was saying to myself. Eventually it became easier for me to look at myself and actually believe my own words..and feel what I was saying. Vibrationally, at a completely different level.

    My mother had 8 children with my father. 6 girls and 2 boys. Yet, she never loved herself – we all knew this. She struggles with loving and accepting herself, and in return, has a difficult time loving and accepting her own children. We understand, yet, we all want to be loved. You can’t fully completely love someone else if you don’t love yourself fully completely first.

    Some people may see this as being selfish – loving yourself first and doing things for your self first – but we have to take care of ourselves first before we can take care of anyone else.

    Thank you soooo much for this, for bringing this important topic out into the open and talking about something that sooo many of us feel inside. I am so grateful! XO

  6. Beautiful piece, but jarring to see an ad for “Spanx” plunked right in the middle of it; reminds me of why I keep an ad-free blog. I will try to do as the author says, although for the mother of a 17-year-old who already tells me I’m a bad example of body image, it may be too late.

    • Thanks so much for flagging that ad, Brenda. The banner should be filtered out now.

      Also, while I’m all for ad-free personal blogs, as the owner of a small publishing business, I gotta say that filtering out a gross ad here and there feels like an ok trade-off to be able to continue paying my editor to produce this site and support her family.

  7. I love this post so much. I’ve been a girl who has struggled with her self image in part because my mom struggles with hers. When I tell her she’s beautiful, she always waves me away, so I feel like how can I accept my beauty when she won’t accept hers? She tells me I’m beautiful, but I can’t believe her. This article has made me realize that I need to stop perpetuating this cycle and really learn to love myself and think of myself as beautiful! It’s hard but I’ll try 🙂 thanks to whomever wrote the article, it woke me up. When I have kids I’m going to stick with this advice too.

  8. Thank you for writing this post. Thank you for opening my eyes and helping me realize what message I am sending to my girls. No I’m not skinny, I
    am lumpy but I am BEAUTIFUL!

  9. thank you for this! i only have 1 daughter, but i also have 2 boys. and i’m going to imply this new philosophy not just for my daughter, but so that my sons will know that a curvy woman is beautiful and won’t try to search in vain for something that is airbrushed and not truly real. thank you for putting this out there!

  10. What an amazing post – what a life-changing thought! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! You have made a huge difference in so many female lives – women and girls (women-to-be). How did I never see what I was doing to my daughter before, what message I was giving her? I am flabbergasted that so many of us just accepted as truth that we left beauty behind with our youth. No more!

  11. Shitting here with a shocked look on my face, not even really knowing what to comment, but knowing that I must. I think mostly, I will just say THANK YOU for writing this and helping me to look at this from a different – and very important – perspective!

  12. Thank you for your post. I have seen how I needed to live what I wanted my children to be in other areas, but not this one. It makes me weep. I needed a good reminder of why I must do the hard things to change – my children are watching.

  13. I would like to hear more from fathers, husbands, grandfathers, brothers, uncles about how they feel. I heard from only one male, and he was on track….I applaud him!

  14. Thank you for this. I needed this. It is so true and I need to live by this for all 4 of my children. My sons, as well as my daughters will benefit from this. My daughter was just asking me today about my “beautiful” stretch marks on my belly. What a great lesson for her to learn they are marks I bear with love and embrace because of what they brought me, and that I am beautiful just the way I am. Maybe like you I will start believing it, even just a little.

  15. What beautiful writing. This gives me a sense of peace inside, and makes me feel okay for today. You spoke to my heart. I want to cry. This is a very important reminder for me. I have a son, and sometimes I think that my body image is not as important since he is not a female. But in moments like this, I want to love myself so that he sees a woman with a healthy body relationship. He should grow up knowing that beauty is a feeling, not the visual images we are constantly sold.

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