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. Thanks for this. Beautifully written and eloquently expresses my thoughts perfectly. Our children have so many influences invading their thought processes about what beauty is that they NEED this from their mothers. Thank you for celebrating the beauty of age, change, and death.

  2. Wow. I love that you took a few hundred words and used it to blow a whole negative ideology to pieces. It’s so true what you said, and your post has not only had an impact on how I will speak to my daughters when I have a family, but how I will talk to myself when I look in the mirror tomorrow morning. You just helped uncover the lies I believed about my future self/ womanhood in general, so thank you. Please keep writing! x

  3. This is such an amazing thing to do. But so hard. But I want my girls to grow up loving themselves in the way I don’t. Thankyou so, so much for this, I really needed to read this. I am beautiful! As are you, you are as beautiful as your girls think you are!

  4. I have come to know that I’m beautiful because my dear Husband tells me so every day. If I believe anything else it’s like I think he’s a liar, and he isn’t. I have three sons; I have to believe them as well when they say that I’m beautiful. Everyone has a different standard for beauty; we all fit at least one of them. Thank you for reminding me to thank them without implying that I don’t believe them.

  5. Wow, that made me tear up (in the best way). At age 48, my mother still laments over her looks… but I am built exactly like her. We are the same weight, height, clothing and shoe size. Anytime she makes a comment about her body, it usually applies to mine. And on the few occasions when she says something about my body, I feel like she is really criticizing herself. I’ll never forget the time in high school that I told her I was happy with my body and felt beautiful… and in response, she told me I ought to do something about the fat around my stomach.
    Paradoxically, my mother is the reason I’m one of the most body-confident people I know– I feel like I have to own loving how I look not just for myself but to set an example for her, my future kidlets, and anyone out there who might be watching.

    • My grandmother did the same thing to my mother, and I have always held a small amount of resentment toward her for it. ‘Oh you poor child, you look like me’ is, in my opinion, a form of abuse. Obviously not intended as such, but it is all the same. Well done you beautiful, beautiful woman for breaking the cycle. My beautiful mother still believes that she is ugly, despite years of the rest of her family telling her that she is not. Your daughters (and sons) will benefit from your self love. Thank you!

    • This gives me so much hope that I can break this cycle. I also think that my mother has been slowly starting to feel better in her own body due to my pushing a positive self-image on her (and telling her that we look enough alike that when she puts herself down, she puts me down too and she loves me way too much to want to do that!)

    • Modeling self love isn’t just something you do for children. We all have the same opportunities to model this kind of thing to our sisters, our friends, and everyone else who we encounter in our lives.

      • Yes! I’ve never felt better about my body than when I lived with three confident ladies who loved the way they looked. Self-love is most important to model for children, but if you can manage it, it’s pretty infectious for everyone.

    • Even when walking down the street a confident woman turns heads no matter what “society” says about her looks. Owning one’s self is beautiful and attractive.

  6. As a mom of two girls, I am constantly trying to remind myself to watch what I say about my appearance in front of them. Thankfully, they are the voice in the mirror that makes me feel beautiful. On the days when I feel at my worst, they find something to compliment me on without me saying a negative word about myself first and they turn those negative thoughts into big, beautiful smiles!
    Beautiful words to remind all of us out there to not only find our beauty but to honor it.

  7. Beautiful!!! When my daughter was born, I thought back to my own childhood. I remember thinking how amazing my mother was, and all the times I heard her denigrate herself over her appearance. I thought about the years I wasted with struggling with an eating disorder, and the hours I had spent in front of the mirror consumed with anxiety over my appearance. When I saw my amazing baby girl I thought, “you deserve more.” I can’t say that I’ve told my girl that I’m beautiful, but I can say that I’ve never complained about my appearance anywhere near her. And, as time has gone by, it doesn’t even occur to me to do so. By choosing to act beautiful for my daughter, I’ve started to believe it.

    I pray it will be the same for you Amanda. It’s a game changer for sure! Thank you so much for sharing this. Tears are flowing.

  8. I am beautiful for my sons.
    When I am dressed up fancy, when I am half naked with not enough sleep, when i am hungry, when I am silly, boring, stressed, responsible, sparkling, sad, creative, hilarious, frustrated, quiet, nurturing, unreasonable, and loving. I am beautiful for my sons because I am an imperfect human and I am living life. And one day I hope that they can each fall in love with a human who is beautiful for being alive and living life. And when they feel down, I hope that they find inside of themselves a beautiful human worthy of love.

  9. How beautifully expressed! As a 54 year old mom of a beautiful 14 year old daughter, sometimes I lament my aging body and middle aged looks. Your words help bring me back to what is here and now – my own daughter’s emotional and mental health, which will be a mirror of my own. Thank you!

  10. After reading this I looked at my 6 year old daughter and siad “I feel really beautiful today” she smiled at me with sparkling eyes and said “you always look beautiful mama”
    Thank you for this, such a wonderful message for us mamas!

  11. I love love love it!!! Amanda you have quite a gift! I love how poetically you wrote this, beautiful words, inside and out 😉 This applies truly to everything in life. We are the example . . . I love to use the analogy commercial flying has given us! When you get on a plane, the flight attendants remind you that “In the event of cabin pressure change, the oxygen mask will drop, please place it on your face first and then help the people next to you. ” Otherwise, if you place it on their faces first, there may not be enough oxygen left for you. Now what good are you to your children if you have no oxygen?? If we don’t take care of our selves, how can we possibly take care of our children? Not just physically caring, but mentally and emotionally caring for ourselves. Showing ourselves love and compassion. We are SO worth it!!!! Perfect! Thank you!

  12. stunning. poetry.

    thank you for writing this and sharing it with the world. know that this piece has had a profound impact on my life, and, hopefully, my daughters’ as well.

  13. As I sit here nursing my daughter this post and all your comments, it reminds me to accept that I am beautiful in my post baby body for her and me. Thank you offbeat mama for making this community and Amanda for your lovely post.

  14. Brilliant post. As a survivor of an eating disorder and terrible acne, I don’t think of myself as beautiful very often. I work out to keep in good shape, I wear minimal makeup, and I try to dress nicely. But when I see myself in the mirror, I don’t always see what my kids see, what my husband sees. I see the leftovers of a mama who battled anorexia and the scars of teenage (and adult) acne. But I am inspired to try and see more, and to let my 22 month old daghter that it is OKAY to think I am beautiful without being vain or narcissistic.

  15. See I can tell that you ARE beautiful by the way you write and how you put a smile on my face as I read (and no doubt on others’ as well). In my mind’s eye, you had a smile on too as you wrote and that is truly beautiful. Sometimes the saccharine expression “beauty is on the inside” sheds it’s cliche and speaks the truth.

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