I've started telling my daughters I'm beautiful

Updated Nov 3 2015
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.

Other Offbeat Families posts you may enjoy:

  1. this might be my favorite post of the year. new to you. so happy a friend tipped me off to you. for what it's worth, i always tell my daughter i'm beautiful. her response, "Is that why men always stop and talk to you at the grocery store?!?" Yup.

  2. So beautifully written. This idea hit home when people starting commenting on how much my daughter looks like me. That comparison is like getting to look in the most flattering mirror. I smile and thank them for the compliment, because she IS beautiful. It radiates from her like sunshine. I had to put my body image issues to bed fast when this started happening. Now, I love it when we meet someone and they exclaim that we look alike. Because that means I look like my daughter too – confident and happy and beautiful.

  3. my daughter has asked me for many years to stop being so self critical..I'm emailing her this blogpost link as soon as I post this comment.
    Her unconditional love & acceptance is pretty amazing for a 21 yr old. she always reminds me how strong & capable I am.
    Funny thing is…my son has always dated girls/women with a similar build to mine. that in itself was like a silent vote of confidence thatpersonality counts as much as bodily perfection.
    Since I have been in Africa these past 2 years..it amazed me how free I felt not having to meet the unrealistic fashion norms. I've started to love myself after 40 years!!!
    loved your post and will repost on my own blog …Under the Tanzanian Sun

    • That's so interesting that you feel better in Africa. I have always wondered how it would feel to exist in a society where the pressure to be "beautiful" wasn't as adamant!

      • Amanda I can tell you that on a trip to Jamaica a few years ago I felt the most beautiful I had ever felt. There is something about the culture there that makes women feel beautiful. Even though I was in my 40's and over a size 10, I was treated as beautiful, and lovely and interesting. It took me about 2 hours to start internalizing the message, and I had the best vacation of my life there. Unfortunately within 6 months of being back in the US it had pretty much worn off.

  4. That, this, your words, they're the most beautiful thing, words, I ever read. I was, am moved, warmed, emotional, sensitive, empowered, your eyes, your smile, your love, I see it, beautiful! Thank you for this post. I loved your expressions, descriptions, through your eyes, from your heart! I'm a fan!

  5. A really wonderful post. Thank you. There is such a lesson here for us. I am hypercritical of myself and I know it shows. The other night my daughter ( 3yo) touched my face and whispers "you are so beautiful". I almost lost it because I know she meant it. I will aspire to be the person she sees.

  6. This has made it's way around Facebook a lot today. Friends, and friends of friends, are being touched by the honesty and importance of your message. It struck a real cord with some of my girlfriends and we are looking into holding a tiny event we think we'll call, "YOU are enough.", We'd like to have women of all ages, shapes, sizes, colours, etc. show up in a very public place without make-up or hair products, wearing yoga pants and a fitted top, thus showing off our curves and natural beauty. We'll each be holding a "self-love" poster reminding ourselves and others where our real worth comes from. Judging on the slow uptake and the private messages from friends saying they could just never expose themselves in this way, this is definitely going to put most of us our out of our comfort zones, but it might generate some discussion and hold us more accountable to each other. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. I just had a mastectomy two days ago, after giving birth to my daughter four weeks ago. I feel both as unattractive as possible right now, yet stronger than ever, knowing what i went through to get her here, and what i still have to go through to keep me here. i needed to read this.

    • Oh Jamie, I've read some of your story, and there is no one more beautiful than you right now. A woman who fights with everything she's got to keep herself and baby healthy is amazing and I know that your daughter will some day look at you and your mastectomy scar and think it's beautiful. My daughter was just months old when my mother had a double mastectomy, she's grown up seeing Grama's scars and knowing that they are there to help Grama be healthy and strong. Your daughter will know that too. I'm sending you love and healing thoughts!

    • Thank you for sharing this with me. You are beautiful and strong. This is a whole different kind of beauty, isn't it? I wish you all the best in the world. Your daughter is so blessed to have you and your radiating strength to guide her. <3

  8. This is perfect and beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes. It is hard sometimes with all the voices we hear everyday telling us we are not quite good enough. Thank you for a lovely and well written reminder. Beverly from Tea Cottage Pretties.

  9. Amanda…this is stunning. Thank you so much for writing this. Fantastic…really, quite good. Your children are lucky to have a mom like you. You ARE beautiful!

  10. As a parent, I want my girls to be happy so badly. I don't ever want them to hate themselves, to base their happiness on what the world tells them a woman should be. I don't want them to ever weigh their merit by what a man thinks they can give him. I don't want them to get wrapped up in the vapid, MTV culture of trying to buy the perfect item to find happiness. The right shoes, the right dress, the right work out plan, the right diet, the right makeup. Sex tips that will drive your man wild! It's maddening to me that Cosmo is at child eyes level in the super market checkout line. I want my girls to value their intelligence. I want them to value their own capacity for kindness. I want them to be brave and fierce and to love themselves for themselves not hate themselves because of the airbrushed non-existant on the magazine cover that they can never be. I love them so much that the thought of them ever degrading themselves hurts me in ways I never imagined I would find when I became a parent. This article just reaffirms everything I want for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  11. Your post made me well up a bit, it was so lovely. But the comments. The comments! I'm weeping now, happy, loving tears as I imagine all you other beautiful women, feeling like I feel, and resolving, as I did while reading, to do it better. My daughter is the most beautiful thing in the world to me, and I want to be that to her. So … no more self-denigration, no more shushing her or hubby when they compliment me, no more avoiding my own face in the mirror, or else focussing in on some imperfect detail while ignoring the rest. And I'm going to get a haircut, because I've been putting it off way too long and I deserve to look and feel good!

  12. Thank you for this post. I am a mum of 2 beautiful girls too and reading your post i can totally relate. I am mean when i look at myself and i need to embrace the love i have in this house and tell myself i am beautiful. This beautiful body carried 2 baby girls safely into this world and I want to be a positive role model for them. Sometimes i just need a reminder…..thanks!

  13. My daughter once told me, at the tender age of 3, that mommies shouldn't try to erase their stretchmarks because otherwise their daughters won't know where they came from. That really blew me away and from that point forward, I never looked at my stretchmarks the same way again. Ah, the wisdom of babes… πŸ™‚

  14. Your post has shown me that I also need to see myself different for my children. The scars I bare are from them and anything from them is beautiful. The extra weight I carry is because I treated myself to pregnancy, like spending more time at home than at a gym, and enjoy making and eating good food with them. Starting now, I am going to tell myself I am beautiful everyday. Thank you for inspiring me.

  15. This article is beautiful! My Mom sent it to me, as this is her… Now me. Tears of confussion… Fear of continuing this cycle. Thank you

  16. I really appreciated this post a lot. My little girl is just 15 months old and one of her favorite things to do is put bracelets on her wrist, hold out her arm and say, "Pweee!" (pretty!) I like to put it on my arm and say, "Oh look at how pretty mommy is!" and she giggles and thinks that's just the best. But then I go to get ready in the morning and I complain about my hair and my crooked teeth, etc. etc. etc. Reading this made me think about how joyful she is when I say "Look how pretty!" and how she copies me by putting the bracelets on and saying "pwee!" What will I do if someday instead of copying me in that way she copies me by saying, "I wish I wasn't so ugly." or "I look like crap today."? I'd be horrified. Thanks for the reminder.

  17. This concept could heal the world! I'd rather have a homely daughter who believes she's beautiful, than a beautiful daughter who believes she's ugly. How did I not think of applying that to myself? Such deeply ingrained impossible standards! THANK YOU FOR YOUR LIGHT!

    • I know! When this occurred to me, I felt like… How didn't I see this, the first moment my babies were born? It's so simple, but it could change everything for them! I've stopped weighing myself in front of them, I've stopped making jokes about how fat and ugly I am. We are the biggest role models in the lives of our children. We could do big things, just by modeling self love. πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  18. Amanda, we share a name, and I long to share your self-affirmation. Thank you for writing this beautiful, necessary piece. I hope to internalize it! I will share it widely, with my friends and children.

  19. This is a beautifully written hard-to-swallow truth – if we don't celebrate our beauty as mothers, what are we teaching our children? Tears in my eyes! LOVE it! Will forward, repost, share!!! God bless.

  20. I think this is the most wonderful article I have ever read. I have a 6 year old daughter and I am so guilty of everything you wrote of in regards to my body image…I see how she models me in EVERYTHING I do, I cringe when I think of what I model for her when I put on that new dress, furrowing my brow and saying "oh it is too tight, I don't like how I look in this"…As a child I did not embrace my femininity or my beauty (because I myself didn't have any healthy female role models) and I so do NOT want to pass this body image problem on to my daughter…your words were so eloquent, so important, so valuable–I have printed your article so I will keep reading it to remind me how beautiful I am! Thanks so much!

  21. I love this. You are so right- I am going to try this. I need to look with Divine eyes- not human- and it won't be so difficult to convince myself. Thanks for this

  22. This is a beautiful article. I agree 100%. I wrote a program called Powerful Puberty for this exact reason. As our girls transform into women, our first step is to find the beauty in ourselves and every other woman on the planet.

    Thank you for sharing how challenging this can be!

    Jessica Drummond, MPT, CCN, CHC

  23. This is a stunning piece of truth.
    I am the mother of a 15 year old and as I watch her blossom, I have stepped in to my own celebration because I too see that I cannot lead with what I do not own. I can't teach her self love if I do not model it myself. I will share this post. And, I will be back for more of your finely wrought sentences and exquisite beauty. Well done, Sister, S

  24. I love this! I focus on "I AM beautiful" rather than "I FEEL beautiful". By saying "I feel", it's as if the beauty is only momentary. In truth, it is always there, I just often fail to see it.

  25. Well, said. What lucky girls to have a mamma like you. I'm going to model this for my little boy, too, from now on. Just as important really when you think about it.

  26. When I turned 60, I remember walking in a mall and being told by a vendor what he did not like about my face – my wrinkles. He had a way to make them disappear. I reflected on this for a few days, amused more than offended, and then I wrote about it on my blog. The blog is http://livinwhatyouregiven60.wordpress.com and the post is called, "The Mortar Man Commeth." I enjoyed recounting the reasons for the wrinkles and was inspired to help other women appreciate the beauty of aging with wrinkles that represent memories and growth. Please check it out if you like. But in the meantime, believe that external definitions are only superficial at best and truth is we are all beautiful. And that my friends, is a truth we can take to the bank.

  27. You don't need to tell your daughters that you are beautiful. They already know it. But it is good that you tell them this, because you need to hear it. I hope you believe it, too, because it IS true.

    Here's a Navajo poem/prayer/meditation I first encountered when I was a young mother like you:

    Today I will walk out, today everything evil will leave me,
    I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
    I will have a light body, I will be happy forever,
    nothing will hinder me.
    I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
    I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
    I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.

    In beauty all day long may I walk.
    Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
    On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
    With dew about my feet, may I walk.

    With beauty before me may I walk.
    With beauty behind me may I walk.
    With beauty below me may I walk.
    With beauty above me may I walk.
    With beauty all around me may I walk.

    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty,
    lively, may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty,
    living again, may I walk.
    My words will be beautiful.

    Walk in beauty, Amanda and readers!

  28. I am 51. Tired and slowly morphing into my grandmother as a body type. That body gave me hugs and love and safety, comfort, discipline and more love. It was beautiful. I know I am beautiful as are you. thank you for reminding me πŸ˜‰

  29. Thank you, thank you!!! You spoke to my heart, my Sacred Feminine Goddess, my soul. Yes I tell my 2 daughters and 2 grand daughters that they are beautiful. Now I can say I am beautiful, too. I am 60 with silver hair, 4 scars on my belly, and I can't take off those nagging last 5 pounds. Yet I am beautiful. I am so happy to be alive and to keep growing, shining, sharing my heart with my loved one's. Now I am reminded to embrace my heart, my whole being with me and declare,"I am beautiful!!!

  30. Wow, love this and love all the comments too. I was anorexic and then bulimic growing up. I mostly came out of it with much struggle. I promised myself I would never, ever discuss weight or calories or ever talk about feeling fat or unattractive with my daughter. I have kept that promise, buy, whatbshe gets in the culture is huge. She's almost 12 and long and lean. I can't tell you how many people comment on her body and how svelt she is totally reinforcing that thatvis thevwayvtonbe now and always. There are also more subtle messages that well intentioned people are not even conscious of. My mother for one. She has been crazy about staying thin. I told her I wouldn't let my daughter sleep over at her house unless she promised not to mention weight (good, bad, or anying in between) about herself or anyone else. When my little one got back from one stay at grandma's ( she was around 5) she and my mom starting talking about how my mom (70) at the time, was pregnant with twins. This because my thin mom thought her stomach was big. When I talked about it with my mom she just thought it was a joke and had nothing to o with weight. I was astounded. The messages, loud and subtle, about what beauty is are everywhere. When my little one was a baby and I was inclined to tell her how beautiful she was I'd say " beautiful spirit girl" she'd know it was the
    inside in addition to the outside that was important. The inside most of all.

  31. I think that we as women have learned to value others' beauty before our own. We've learned to dole out compliments while brushing aside ones that are given to us. It's really damaging to anyone's self esteem to be constantly puting yourself down. To think that we are teaching our children this as well. I am definitely going to be more concious of what I do and say in front of my daughter and son. I am woman. I am beautiful.

  32. Yes–you are beautiful and you post beautiful. Thanks for getting here and sharing it. I like to think I live this (write it–my new play Ephemory-now onstage)–but I didn't get it until I was in my 50s. I think its beautiful–no, essential–that we all get this and slam the door shut on high school/worry this/buy that/ misogynistic-corpo-inhibition speak ASAP. Carry on, beautiful women.

  33. This is absolutely beautiful and EXACTLY what I needed to read as I'm playing on the floor with my baby girl Aurora (7 months omg where has the time gone!). Tiger strips and all I AM BEAUTIFUL!

  34. Wow – the number of comments on this is staggering. But it _IS_ true we are all beautiful and we should remember it. It's hard with society but we should ignore what society says and revel that we are all fabulous!

  35. Thank you brought tears to my eyes!!! You are so right! I have just recently sprouted a few greys and noticing the crows feet, time to let go of the identification of outer beauty. The beauty trough my children's eyes, powerful because they really see me! the me that can only be felt! Thank you needed the reframe so much!

  36. This was shared by some women I know on FB and I'd also like to thank you very much for this post and I'd only like to add that it is equally important for men to read this.

    I too need to respond positively when my wife and mother of our kids projects self-love and confidence. and for sons as well as daughters to see this behavior.

    There are few things more beautiful in the world than a woman that loves, accepts, and respects herself.

  37. Well said!!! Thank you for this blessed article…such a great message and so poetically written. It brought tears to my eyes…in knowing my own battle with my waning youth and also knowing in my head that I am owning my beauty at any age, growing older w/ grace, and seeing joy at every age. I still struggle a bit with knowing this in my heart, though. It's a process! Growing up, I witnessed my mom hating herself more at every year she got older. At this point, she doesn't even want her birthday talked about. It makes me sad b/c I do see her as BEAUTIFUL!!! Her self loathing has, however, inspired me to change the cycle and relish in the stages of change…even if they're not "some beauty ideal"…yuck!! You're article surely supports that idea, and I'm so grateful I got to read it. Thanks for sharing. ~Kiki

  38. I heard once that if I spoke about a friend the way I speak about myself, she wouldn't be my friend for long. It's def time I were a better friend to MYSELF–and a better example to my daughters. Thank you so much for sharing.

  39. This is an amazing story. I completely agree, us women are so busy doing everything for everyone we love that we tend to forget about ourselves. We are beautiful no matter what, we are beautiful because we are intelligent and kind hearted. Beauty is within. my three year old daughter always tells me i look pretty like a princess and gives me hugs and kisses

  40. I sobbed when I read this. My age has been really hard for me to come to grips with. (Im 50 this year). I needed to hear this. Thank you.

  41. This is wonderful. I have not been good at saying about myself but my husband is so wonderful to tell the girls "doesn't mommy look beautiful?" or "Isn't your mom beautiful?" The oldest has picked it up and now tells other woman they are beautiful.

  42. Beautiful. I have a son, but I imagine this will have an equally great impact on him and his perceptions of beauty. Thank you.

  43. A little girl told me this randomly while I was going on my normal way in and around our courthouse: "You are someone's beautiful mama!" It brought tears to my eyes, mostly that someone would think that about me. And why not? Why can't I think this about myself and have it be true? Thank you for affirming this.

  44. This hit home. Just yesterday my daughters 8 and 9 found some pictures of me. When I told them that I didn't like to look at myself in pictures they asked why and I told them that I did not think that I was beautiful. My youngest said, "Then you don't think that I'm beautiful cause I look just like you". Ouch!!

  45. I remember when I was very little, I used to love to climb on the couch and curl up with my mom. Then one day my mom told me that she wanted to lose weight. I was distressed and said that I didn't want her to do that because then she wouldn't be so soft anymore. She got upset and said no, she would lose the weight because she didn't want to be soft.

    I think of that as a defining moment in my life because before that I always thought my mother was absolutely beautiful. It was her own negative comment about herself that first planted in me the nagging doubt that perhaps I had been wrong about that; she was a grownup and surely she knew better than me if she was beautiful or not.

    I feel like I've battled for a lifetime to see my own beauty, and I still battle for it when I hear the comments that my mother and aunts and future mother-in-law make about their bodies and I wonder what they must be thinking of mine. I won't be that way with my daughters and sons, I must learn and extend and teach them that they are the only true authority on their own beauty.

    • Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. My girls always say that they want to snuggle with me, instead of daddy because I'm so comfy. It's so wonderful that they can love me, not in spite of, but actually embracing the things I hate. It's important, I think, that I let my "comfiness" be something loveable. <3

  46. Thank you so much for this article! I have a toddler and I feel like all the weight gain and other changes that I am not beautiful anymore. I'm glad I read this article because I want more than anything for my daughter to grow up without my issues with self confidence. I am going to do this. I hope that after telling my daughter and myself enough that I will start believing it.

  47. I am a grandma now, and this past summer, swimming weather, I was complaining about the usual 'getting old, getting fat(ter) and my 2 beautiful daughters told me that since they looked like me and I thought they were beautiful, I must be, too! Wow. Then they said I needed to stop putting myself down or the baby girls will think there is something wrong with their bodies, so your post really hit me, and I love it! I have been telling myself every day "You are so beautiful" and I try not to say 'for someone your age". Thank you, and I had to pin your blog to Pinterest- others need to read this! Bless your keen insight, it is perfect! Thank you~ from beautiful ME

  48. I always tell my toddler granddaughter she is beautiful like her mother and grandmother as we put on makeup and look in the mirror together and make faces

  49. Excuse me: your breasts do NOT lose their shape, they change their shape, always maturing and becoming a new awesome. It is only our culture that says that our bodies are only beautiful in puberty. Other cultures value the long breasts that result from long and loving life. We can, too.. One of the most beautiful women I have had the privilege to serve as physician was in her 80's, her eyes shone with love for her granddaughter, her voice sang with her story, her face captivated me and her breasts were as long as her arms. I aspire to be just like her!

    That small disagreement aside, your post is beautiful and inspiring. I'll be saying this to my daughter.

    • Yes. I was writing from the perspective of an inner dialog that has been shaped by a societal pressure to conform to a narrow standard of beauty. We don't disagree about this.

      Thank you. I'm so glad you'll be passing the love along!

  50. What a revelation. I love this so much. Your writing is so poignant and beautiful- so vulnerable. Yes, you are so so beautiful. So am I… lets be beautiful for the rest of our lives with our heads held high and our arms out stretched. Lets be beautiful for the world to see and stare and gape at… beautiful and magnificent for our daughters and theirs as well. XO

  51. I'm not a mother. But recently I found these words somewhere: "You earned these stripes. You are a tiger!" on women who're struggleing with their pregnancy stripes. I love this post. Women should learn to love themselves.

  52. What a great blog. Makes me wish I was a woman, and not just on weekends (kidding). Seriously – I liked this; you speak the truth in it's entirety.

  53. Thank you for this! I loved your post & forwarded to every self-critical (read ALL) mama I know. I only wish you had included a reference to our sons…our self-image helps create their image of female beauty, for now and for their (well, for a great deal of their) future romantic partnerships. What a lovely world to live in where men celebrated the reality, strength and true beauty of the women in their lives.

  54. This brought tears to my eyes. My wife of of 24 years is so beautiful. Like so many women who've been the best part of their families' lives, she has her battle scars. To me and to the kids they only add to her beauty. Our 20 year old daughter is always on about her hot mama. I tell her every day, many times a day, just how beautiful she is.

    If only she believed it. Maybe someday she will.

  55. This is beautiful, I read and reread. Shared on FB and watched it get shared. Thank you for such a powerful, inspiring, beautiful post.

  56. I want to change my body. Not because I'm not beautiful, but because my body gives me pain and makes many everyday tasks a chore. Some people feel they need to augment their body for health reasons and not beauty ones. Just thought I would remind everyone not to assume that it is always a question of beauty. As much as I think my clothes will hang better after a boob reduction and lift, I mainly just want to walk pain free for a while ;-p

    • It's so important that nobody gets to tell you what shape or size your body should be. It's your body. You can treat it however you want to. Modeling self love for your children absolutely involves being the healthiest person you can be, in the body that suits you best, and refusing to put yourself down in front of them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  57. When I was a kid, I had a Barbie with two different hair colors. I called her (Mom's first name) because my mother highlighted her hair. My mother didn't see what I saw – she only saw her flaws, her weight struggles. After she took me and my sister with her to enough diet meetings, I stopped trying to compare her to my favorite doll.

  58. Amanda, Thank you so much for this post! As the owner of a natural skin care company for girls I often speak and participate at many self esteem building workshops for girls. Your wonderful piece communicates so beautifully what I hear from moms all the time. They feel so disingenuous telling their daughters one thing and thinking another. Our journey of just being a woman is beautiful. The love we create and the love we give is beautiful. Celebrate and live your beauty with your daughter. They will learn by example. Blessings!

  59. Thanks for this piece. I figured this out a while back as I was raising my daughter. Too often mothers are surprised that their daughters are critical of bodies, even though they rarely celebrate their own.

  60. I agree with your effort. I was middle aged before I realized that I had a beautiful mother. She'd complained to me about how ugly she was most of my life and then suddenly, I saw her through adult eyes and realized, no. This is a truly beautiful woman. Women are too often judged by their physical appearance. It's also deeply important to emphasize that beautiful people can be bright, kind and funny and that beauty alone is not the only path to happiness.

  61. I want to change my body. Not because I'm not beautiful, but because my body gives me pain and makes many everyday tasks a chore. Some people feel they need to augment their body for health reasons and not beauty ones. Just thought I would remind everyone not to assume that it is always a question of beauty.

    • Accepting and celebrating your beauty doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to change. We are always learning and evolving. We will change in millions of ways throughout our lives. Change is an important part of learning to be who we are, and wanting to change can mean that we love ourselves, yes. We are beautiful now, no matter how many changes we want to make.

  62. I thought this was a nice piece and I totally appreciate the message. I am old enough to know that a blind man can tell the difference between an ugly and a beautiful person, it has nothing to do with your appearance. Stop tying sex appeal to your self worth. Pull the plug on your tv if that's necessary.

  63. thank you so much for writing this. i cried when i read this too. its time to put an end to all the self loathing before we pass it along to our daughters. my daughter adores me and when I look in the mirror I think that I should probably try to see myself through her eyes, I'm sure I'd see a very beautiful person.

    • Yes! Your daughter adores you and sees your beauty because she hasn't been damaged yet, she hasn't been brainwashed about what beauty means. Every time we put ourselves down in front of our children, it is like telling them that society's rigid and unfair standard of beauty is right! We can't go out into the world and stop negative messages from reaching our children, but we can, as their biggest role model, be sure not to be a source of them.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts (and your tears!) with me. You are totally beautiful.

  64. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing this. Your writing touched me deeply and made me realize some important things about what I teach my own daughters through my example.

  65. This is awesome!! I'm here to tell you there is no way that time will not catch up to you. Skin will stretch, things will sag; it's inevitable. Love the 'inside you' now, because really, that's what you are. I'm 60, and I'm beautiful!

    • I love this. It is so important to say I am, WHATEVER I AM, and I am beautiful! It's important to say that every day and in front of everybody who looks up to us, because we're all certainly not receiving that kind of affirmation from the world at large!

  66. What a wonderful, touching article. I'd never thought of what you said in this way before and your article has changed my behaviour forever. Thank you.

  67. Definitely like her, as well as her essay ! But I get the impression that she still hasn't fully exorcised the old, patriarchal definition of beauty as "youth and thinness" (an idea deliberately crafted and promoted to make women feel more disempowered and less confident with each year and pound nature inevitably adds.) I wish she would have included her real photo, so I – and probably a lot of others – could have given it a "Like," because there are some of us who find mature beauty the most attractive, and would like to tell her that she's beautiful not "in spite of" her age, but partly "because of" it ! (And regardless of age or shape, there's nothing more attractive than someone who's comfortable with who they are and what they look like !)

    • It is totally unfair to expect that a woman just spontaneously "shed" the rigid and unfair standard of beauty that has been relentlessly pounded into us, beginning the day we were born.

      I am an adult, a mom, and have had enough life experience to know that beauty has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the way a person looks, and yet, because of the negative messages I have been receiving my whole life, it is not an easy task to love myself for what I am. The reason this piece is resonating so deeply with so many people is because we, as women, ALL feel that way. We are all different sizes and shapes and ages, and we ALL have a hard time accepting ourselves as beautiful. We're all smart and enlightened and kind and we understand that beauty is multidimensional and diverse, but because of being attacked so viciously our whole lives, we can't acknowledge it in ourselves. It is so ingrained in us, not to accept ourselves, that it has become automatic. Changing the way we perceive our own beauty would be no less difficult than changing the sound of our laugh, or the fact that we startle when we hear a loud noise.

      I may not ever get to a point where I feel unabashedly beautiful, and that's a shame. It means that I've been damaged beyond repair, and I don't appreciate your sanctimony over my condition as a person. (Although I don't mean to attack you, specifically. This sentiment of, "Why doesn't the author of this piece magically change what's been beaten into her every moment of her existence?"… has been popping up, here and there, as a response to this article.) However, as a mother, while I can't stop millions of harmful messages from reaching my children via culture and media and society, I can make ABSOLUTELY SURE that I am not a source of those damaging messages for my daughters.

      • Funny – it was my impression that starting the process of unlearning patriarchal ideals of beauty and joyfully modelling confidence and self-worth is what your beautiful piece was all about. Unfortunately, it seems there are always those who are sitting in the wings, ready to shame women for not "spontaneously "shed(ding)" the rigid and unfair standard of beauty that has been relentlessly pounded into us, beginning the day we were born". This kind of shaming discourse does little to actually affect change in the way women perceive themselves. Probably because it rings as slightly disingenuous. I for one don't really believe that many women relate to the idea that it's just so easy to magically flip everything you've learned since the day you were born. Your writing is honest, and points to real ways in which women can start unraveling some of the negative stuff, even though it may never fully come undone. Acknowledging that it isn't so easy to unlearn all this overnight is honest and that is what has resonated with so many of us. Thank-you.

      • Thank you for the thoughtful – and totally on-target – reply ! Having had the misfortune to grow up in the 1950s, I can personally identify with someone still working on shedding sexist programming, so I'm sorry if it looked as if I was criticizing you for not being able to do something I haven't come close to achieving myself. Men who grew up in the days before the feminist renaissance of the 1960s also have stereotypes and negative, self-destructive programming to deal with, though it's different, and not aimed at disempowering them as is the case with women's programming in a patriarchal society. Even over half a century later, I haven't made nearly as much progress in regard to exorcising the anti-emotional and anti-affectional programming I was given while a grade-schooler as you have in getting rid of the "borderline-anorexic teenager" definition of beauty that women are STILL often assaulted with by the media and are forced to encounter on every magazine rack. I DO commend you for making so much progress and for being so honest about how it's still a struggle. But thanks to essays like yours – and your personal example to your children and others around you – the struggle to make society as a whole recognize and celebrate the wide spectrum of beauty that exists should get easier as time goes by !

Read more comments

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.