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. This was shared by some women I know on FB and I’d also like to thank you very much for this post and I’d only like to add that it is equally important for men to read this.

    I too need to respond positively when my wife and mother of our kids projects self-love and confidence. and for sons as well as daughters to see this behavior.

    There are few things more beautiful in the world than a woman that loves, accepts, and respects herself.

  2. Well said!!! Thank you for this blessed article…such a great message and so poetically written. It brought tears to my eyes…in knowing my own battle with my waning youth and also knowing in my head that I am owning my beauty at any age, growing older w/ grace, and seeing joy at every age. I still struggle a bit with knowing this in my heart, though. It’s a process! Growing up, I witnessed my mom hating herself more at every year she got older. At this point, she doesn’t even want her birthday talked about. It makes me sad b/c I do see her as BEAUTIFUL!!! Her self loathing has, however, inspired me to change the cycle and relish in the stages of change…even if they’re not “some beauty ideal”…yuck!! You’re article surely supports that idea, and I’m so grateful I got to read it. Thanks for sharing. ~Kiki

  3. I heard once that if I spoke about a friend the way I speak about myself, she wouldn’t be my friend for long. It’s def time I were a better friend to MYSELF–and a better example to my daughters. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. This is an amazing story. I completely agree, us women are so busy doing everything for everyone we love that we tend to forget about ourselves. We are beautiful no matter what, we are beautiful because we are intelligent and kind hearted. Beauty is within. my three year old daughter always tells me i look pretty like a princess and gives me hugs and kisses

  5. This is wonderful. I have not been good at saying about myself but my husband is so wonderful to tell the girls “doesn’t mommy look beautiful?” or “Isn’t your mom beautiful?” The oldest has picked it up and now tells other woman they are beautiful.

  6. A little girl told me this randomly while I was going on my normal way in and around our courthouse: “You are someone’s beautiful mama!” It brought tears to my eyes, mostly that someone would think that about me. And why not? Why can’t I think this about myself and have it be true? Thank you for affirming this.

  7. This hit home. Just yesterday my daughters 8 and 9 found some pictures of me. When I told them that I didn’t like to look at myself in pictures they asked why and I told them that I did not think that I was beautiful. My youngest said, “Then you don’t think that I’m beautiful cause I look just like you”. Ouch!!

  8. I remember when I was very little, I used to love to climb on the couch and curl up with my mom. Then one day my mom told me that she wanted to lose weight. I was distressed and said that I didn’t want her to do that because then she wouldn’t be so soft anymore. She got upset and said no, she would lose the weight because she didn’t want to be soft.

    I think of that as a defining moment in my life because before that I always thought my mother was absolutely beautiful. It was her own negative comment about herself that first planted in me the nagging doubt that perhaps I had been wrong about that; she was a grownup and surely she knew better than me if she was beautiful or not.

    I feel like I’ve battled for a lifetime to see my own beauty, and I still battle for it when I hear the comments that my mother and aunts and future mother-in-law make about their bodies and I wonder what they must be thinking of mine. I won’t be that way with my daughters and sons, I must learn and extend and teach them that they are the only true authority on their own beauty.

    • Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. My girls always say that they want to snuggle with me, instead of daddy because I’m so comfy. It’s so wonderful that they can love me, not in spite of, but actually embracing the things I hate. It’s important, I think, that I let my “comfiness” be something loveable. <3

  9. Thank you so much for this article! I have a toddler and I feel like all the weight gain and other changes that I am not beautiful anymore. I’m glad I read this article because I want more than anything for my daughter to grow up without my issues with self confidence. I am going to do this. I hope that after telling my daughter and myself enough that I will start believing it.

  10. I am a grandma now, and this past summer, swimming weather, I was complaining about the usual ‘getting old, getting fat(ter) and my 2 beautiful daughters told me that since they looked like me and I thought they were beautiful, I must be, too! Wow. Then they said I needed to stop putting myself down or the baby girls will think there is something wrong with their bodies, so your post really hit me, and I love it! I have been telling myself every day “You are so beautiful” and I try not to say ‘for someone your age”. Thank you, and I had to pin your blog to Pinterest- others need to read this! Bless your keen insight, it is perfect! Thank you~ from beautiful ME

  11. Excuse me: your breasts do NOT lose their shape, they change their shape, always maturing and becoming a new awesome. It is only our culture that says that our bodies are only beautiful in puberty. Other cultures value the long breasts that result from long and loving life. We can, too.. One of the most beautiful women I have had the privilege to serve as physician was in her 80’s, her eyes shone with love for her granddaughter, her voice sang with her story, her face captivated me and her breasts were as long as her arms. I aspire to be just like her!

    That small disagreement aside, your post is beautiful and inspiring. I’ll be saying this to my daughter.

    • Yes. I was writing from the perspective of an inner dialog that has been shaped by a societal pressure to conform to a narrow standard of beauty. We don’t disagree about this.

      Thank you. I’m so glad you’ll be passing the love along!

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