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. After I had my daugther–and saw myself in her beautiful perfection–I didn’t have to pretend to believe I was beautiful anymore. I was amazed to see in her tiny features reflections of myself…and learned to love my own body and face, flaws and all, in a way I never had before. I finally believed what my parents had always told me when I was a little girl, when I saw her the way they saw me. I just hope it doesn’t take her this long to believe it herself.

  2. Still sitting here sobbing after reading your post. I can’t tell you how much it meant to read this now. My mother is a stunning woman who has never been able to really feel that she is beautiful, even though my father, my brother and I have thought so and told her so for years and years. It is a deeply powerful thing for a woman to claim her own beauty, and even more so to share that with her children and with those she influences most. Thank you so much.

  3. A friend posted this on her FB page and i am so glad she did. What a well written post with a much needed message… one I should take to heart. I have fallen into the trap of being super mom, especially to my son with autism. I do a great job as MOM but along the way I have lost me, the woman. I no longer feel pretty and happy with whom I am… who has time to worry about those things? Oh I can go on and think i will on my blog. Thank you for this reminder! You are beautiful and SO I AM I!!!

    • don’t forget the whispers that she is smart, and funny and strong and a million other things. It’s important to feel beautiful, but the true armor that we as women can wear to protect us against the harsh blows that the media deals us is to feel like we are so much MORE than how we look!

      My husband asked me a while back about how women who have always been attractive deal with their fading looks. He commented that it must be really hard. I told him that at some point those women either realize they have a lot more to offer the world than how they look, or they don’t. The ones that don’t go crazy with plastic surgery or wallow in the depths of despair. It’s much easier to be a woman who’s never relied on her beauty, so that as what little you have fails, you have a lot to lean on.

  4. This had me break down bawling at work. It is so beautifully written and poetic. Thank you so much for sharing and for being an inspiration.
    As the mom of a son, I have always been careful to tell him at least once a day that he is beautiful and amazing. I never really considered how I also needed to model what it means to be a beautiful woman to him. One day recently, as I was getting dressed, he came over and rubbed my belly and asked why it had so many lines on it and if I was okay. I realized that however I may feel about the changes my body made after I had him, I need to show him that those lines, and rolls, and sags make me even more beautiful because I gained them creating him. It’s so easy to see the beauty our children reflect. Still, the body that evolved in creating them is usually met with angst and disdain. I want my son to be the kind of man that finds beauty in life and every aspect of its creation. Not the kind of man who grows up to feel like beauty is fleeting and change is an ugly part of life. I’m going to go home tonight and share with him all the things we love about ourselves and our evolving bodies!

  5. Amanda, this was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. As the mother of a young daughter myself, I’ve been struggling with keeping my self-deprecating thoughts far from her ear’s reach. But to actually tell her I’m beautiful? Now that is a a challenge, and one, I too, will do for her. You are completely right; our children see ourselves through their eyes, and we’d all be more beautiful if we did too. Thank you!!!

  6. this is so utterly beautiful. i am a momma with picc line scars on both arms, a giant backwards j scar on my stomach from a kidney transplant when i was 11, bony fingers from muscle wasting…and it is ALL stunning because without all of it, my girl wouldn’t be here, because i wouldn’t be here.

    thank you so so much for this!
    much love and many blessings.

  7. I’ve always been told I’m unattractive but my daughter looks like me and she is beautiful so how can I be ugly? I don’t want her to have the same self-esteem issues I do so I pretend to like myself and I tell her how perfect she is. One day, if I pretend hard enough, I may believe I’m worth something.

  8. Thank you for this lovely post 🙂
    My daughter will be 4 months old on Sunday and not a day has gone by when my husband and I haven’t told her that she is beautiful. But we don’t want her to think ‘Beauty’ is everything so we also remind her that she is ‘Brave’ and ‘Smart’ and ‘Strong’.
    We also try to remind each other of the good qualities we also have (including being beautiful). Who knew being a parent would be *this* hard? 😛

  9. Truth, pure and simple. I had a “stealth ninja cry” at my desk, reading this after a friend posted it to FB.

    This is so important . . . my girls need me this way, just as much as they need me to cook and drive and read them stories and kiss boo-boos. I tell them about their own good qualities all the time; it’s time I learned to tell them about mine as well.

    Thank you so much for this.

  10. I am not a mom but I did love reading this. My mother is the most beautiful person. She truly is a very attractive woman. She always taught me to try to stay fit, eat health, get dolled up but that ultimately true beauty comes from within. She got in a accident two years ago and has a scar on her forehead. She cut her hair differently until it healed but the first Time I saw her after her accident my stomach sank. She told me in tears that it was not her time be vain but to be thankful that she was okay even though i knew she must be morifed inside. I adore my mother and she has symbolized true beauty comes from confidence and within first. I hope I’m half as confident as she has alway been to me when I am a mother.

  11. I really wish I could do this. I know in failing my daughter by not embracing myself flaws and all. It’s hard to change the way you have been brought up. I’m hoping if I don’t say these things around her she won’t ever end up like me. Truly beautiful post and well meaning.

  12. Wow. My girls are adults now, and one of them looks like me. She struggles with insecurities the same way I always did and still do. I wish I had read this 20 years ago. So, for now, I will change my attitude and hope that she will see and be encouraged. And I will put your words to practice with my grandchildren. Thank you for this.

  13. OMG did I love this post! I am slow and tired, too and I have recently started a blog reflecting on health and motherhood. I have had chronic health issues for a long time and I don’t feel beautiful when I am sick. This post really hit a nerve with me because I think that emit looking ugly vibes and I can change that– I have the power. Thank you so much for writing this!! Many blessings to you and yours.

  14. Thank you for this. I have been telling my mom that if she wants me and my sisters to believe we are beautiful, then she needs to believe that she is beautiful, because she is! I don’t think she really got it until she saw this post. She actually sent me the link so I could see it. So thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

  15. This post made me think about my son and what I am teaching him by feeling bad about myself. If he grows up with me making comments about myself being fat and ugly he is going to grow up looking at women like me and believing they are fat and ugly- after all his mother told him so. Just gives me even more reason to work on my self-esteem.

  16. As a single custodial dad, I try to show this same sentiment when my kids see me with my current girlfriend. She is beautiful to me (she has a hard time admitting that fact)… They get such a bad example other places, whether that is magazine covers, music videos, or their mom’s boyfriend saying she needs to lose more weight (she has dropped an unhealthy amount in the last year and a half)… Thanks for this.

  17. I actually find it MORE believable when a child tells me I’m pretty. One day, I dressed up in my favorite flowy skirt and blouse and put my hair in spiral curls. Some people at work didn’t even recognize me. But the best part was while at a store, I little girl walking with her dad stopped and stared, saying “wow, daddy, she’s PWETTY! She looks like a faiwy pwincess!” Children can be counted on to say what they think. Why should it be any less believable, or meaningful because it’s a child? Loved your post. I will definitely keep this in mind for when I have children

  18. I used to be the kind of woman who would make heads turn when I entered a room, I was that stunning. These days I can barely remember to get out of my sweats. My daughter is the one who constantly reminds me to dress up, choose shoes that are not flip flops, find the lipstick and mascara. I love that girl; at nine she has more than I had at that age. I know that I am not yet really hideous but I feel so and that my glory is now reflected glory, that my daughter is the shining star of loveliness in this house now.

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