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, 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.
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 have a bucket list. I keep it written in a little journal and I get it out and stare at it once in a... Read more
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.”
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:
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- No, it’s not for the kids: what I want is important, too
- I am a transgender dad in a gay relationship who breastfeeds his baby boy
- How can you find yourself when you’re focused on raising someone else?
- Being a mom isn’t my most interesting feature
Comments on I’ve started telling my daughters I’m beautiful
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.
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.
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.
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!
Wow. Just, wow. This was beautifully written and so powerful. Your words are so true and you are so right! Thank you for writing this!
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.
Glorious words. Thank you.
Absolutely important for us, mothers and daughters, to hear. Thanks for this!
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.
Please keep me updated about your project. It sounds amazing. I love all of this vulnerability and bravery. 🙂
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
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.
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!
Thank you, old friend!
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.
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!
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!
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… 🙂
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.
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
You are beautiful, and this is beautiful.
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.
You made me all teary. Thank you for this wonderful bit of wisdom.
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. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
All women are beautiful, and when we smile, we transform the world with a joy nothing can match!
I think your husband needs to communicate his love in words a little more! 🙂