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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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 😉

  12. 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!!!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

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