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. Wow… Thank you so much for your beautiful inspiring words. I’m a mum of five and I know exactly what you’re saying… You are so true <3
    I have three girls and two boys. To me it is as much important my boys see what true beauty is, for they will treat their partner and kids knowing the difference between pretty and beauty.
    So, again, thank you for shining your beauty. It will help me and a lot of "us" to remember doing the same.
    I'll share this post on my Facebook, is it okay if I translate it in Dutch?
    Shine on! <3

    • It sure is okay if you translate it. 🙂 I think you are so right. It is SO important to model this to our sons, too. I only have girls, so I tend to leave that part out. Thank you for your beautiful words. <3

  2. I’ve done the opposite to my daughter, like my mother did with me, now she’s thirteen and when I tell her she’s beautiful she says you’re my mom so you don’t know. It breaks my heart but I can start today and please don’t do what I did. We need to love ourselves. Thanks for this beautiful post, I can’t stop crying.

    • Erin, print this and save it so when your daughter has her own children you can get it out and give it to her and tell her that you know you didn’t parent perfectly, but she can read this and not make your mistakes!

  3. THis is so very true. My daughter is now 18. Teaching her to eat heathy, and have a heathy lifestyle by living that way has been a radical change from about 7 years ago when I heard her mimicking me in front of the mirror, saying, “My jeans are too tight”, “my tummy is too flabby for a bikini.” She was 11 – and beautiful. That was the day I became committed to only saying positive things about my aging, imperfect, healthy body – because I am beautiful!

  4. My mother and I are opposites in nearly every way. Where her hair is dark and curly, mine is fair and straight and where she is slender, I am curvy. Her mother often degredated herself and even said ‘oh you poor child, you look like me’ and other awful things to her. My mother never put me down, but she put herself down frequently. Often a compliment to me would double as a backhand to herself. We learn that negative body image is a part of being a woman, that its normal and even healthy! My own daughter is just 4 months old, but already is remarkably like me. Thank you so much for the kick up the bum to stop fretting about the small things and start embracing my post-baby body. I need to be beautiful for her!

  5. Poignant post, Amanda. A Facebook friend posted this today and I think it speaks to so many of us! How brave to have put words to such visceral feelings. Kudos.

    So, yes, own your beauty… or FAKE it until you MAKE it–we teach people how to treat us with every thing we say and do. One of the most powerful tools I’ve discovered in my own personal struggles is the power of the QUESTION… small questions that need not have an answer. Like this one, “What if I believed that I was beautiful, how would that feel?” Let a question like this tumble in your brain during your days… our brains love questions and begin to work on them subconsciously the moment they appear.

    And, I wonder how it might feel for you to trade this: “I am slow and I am tired. I am round and sagging. I am harried. I am sexless. I am getting older.”

    For this: “I am deliberate and hard working. I am mature of mind and body. I am curious about the future. I am excited by the desires of my body. I am older and wiser today than I have ever been and younger than I will ever be. This moment is mine.”


  6. Wow..that was beautiful to read. Thank you

    When my son was around 2 yr.( 20 yrs. old now) I came out
    dressed up to go out and he said “mommy you look like a Fashion Grill” in his little voice..I laughed
    Two years ago my then 10 yr. old son did a Mothers Day project at school where they described their mother..he put I was “Real Fancy” I laughed..
    Im not Real Fancy and Im defiantly not a Fashion Grill but in their little eyes I was everything beautiful. Thank you for reminding me and making me think of how my actions, words and negative comments affect my boys and now my daughter..I am Beautiful!

  7. ..aaannnnd I’m crying. Thank you so much for this beautifully written post. It reminded me of how important it is to model behaviors for my daughters that I want them to follow, not “do as I say, not as I do.” Amazing <3

  8. thank you so much for posting this. i realize how true this is for me and in my life. I think this is a necessary message to send to girls for sure but i also want to add – as a mom of a boy – that it’s an important message to send to boys too. Raising their standards, guiding their impressions of women, and teaching them to value confident women and see beauty there will also better our society and encourage them to have more genuine and deep connections with women – whether they’re gay or straight. A rising tide lifts all boats. Now, i’m going to attempt to stop crying and get back to work! THANK YOU AMANDA (for your sentiments, your message, and your courage)!!!

  9. I loved this post, so beautifully written, and so true. Thanks for the reminder that our children’s reality and attitudes are so clearly shaped by our outlook and actions. I heard someone once say, “be careful how you speak to your children, it becomes their inner dialog”. Those words really hit home and have made me ever more conscious of the messages I am sending my son every day.

    I think it’s just as important to tell your sons you are beautiful as your daughters.

  10. Oh my gosh, can I just say that you all are breaking my heart in the best way. Thank you for all of your stories and for sharing your thoughts and struggles with me. I wish I could reply to every comment. I am reading them all with tears in my eyes. Thank you for being in this with me. <3

  11. My guess is you are, in-fact, a beautiful woman. There is a fine line between self-confidence and vanity though. Beauty is nice, but being a good person, who loves herself — physically beautiful or not — is far, far more important than looks, wouldn’t you say?

  12. Kudos — this is exceptional. You will be teaching your daughters that beauty, inside and out, is something we bottle in our youth and keep forever, not something we lose when the world decides that we aren’t what it wants us to be.

  13. Love, love, love, love this! I know that I am hard on myself, and I feel like I am just a shadow of how I used to be. I look back at pictures from ten years ago and want to cry because of how young and thin and happy I look. Because now all I can see is the fat and the stress of the years written all over my face. But I am trying. I am learning to just love me, for how I am, because I want my girls (and boys) to love themselves to. My kids are all different shapes and sizes and I tell them how beautiful they all are because they are different. It saddens me to hear my 5 year old talk about being fat when she gets dressed. I hate to think she learned it from me, but I’m pretty sure she did. I make jokes about my weight and appearance all the time, but not really in jest. Thankfully, my kids have a better example in their father, who always tells me how beautiful I am, even though I may brush off his remarks.

  14. Thank you for writing this. My own mother was the hardened woman with cracks and bitterness. At 33 I still struggle with this feeling of ‘not enough.’ I’m not beautiful enough, brave enough, strong enough. It’s changing though. I’m pregnant. My dear husband saw something in me that is enough, enough to love me and marry me. Now, I’m striving to be healthy enough to bring a new life into the world, so I can show it I AM enough. I AM beautiful, and strong, and brave. How could I have made it this far in life to not be?? I’m awaiting my birth this summer so that I can be different from my mother. I want to show my child that i am beautiful and that he/she can be too.

  15. Such a beautiful post! I internalized my mom’s “I’m too fat, I’m not pretty” far too much. I don’t have kids, but I think your post is applicable far beyond just the relationship women have with their children. What if we did this with our friends and colleagues, too. What if we said “I’m pretty today!” and not “ugh, I fat today…” to our friends? (And not in a snarky “I’m pretty and saying it to make you feel not pretty” way). How much could we reflect other women’s beauty back to them, and have ours reflected back to ourselves? Again, really great post and it gave me so much to think about in the way I think about myself and the way I put myself out in the world.

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