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 is an absolutely lovely post, and well written. I don’t even have children, but it made me feel inspired to think more kindly of myself and to model beauty for other girls. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

  2. This is what I just wrote on my FB sharing of this article: It’s funny, hey? How you sometimes have to see things over and over before you finally go and take a read… but this is an important one for anyone, especially somebody with kids. Not just daughters. I think it’s high time we start taking
    responsibility for the fact that boys who watch us grow up hating the way we look post-kid, which, face it, is the only way they are ever going to see us… will then grow up and quite possibly MISS the fact that women are still beautiful after children. Sure, it’s easy to say guys are shallow and pathetic because they lose interest in a woman once they get older and have kids, but it’s bound to happen if 1) WE hate the way WE look after kids and pine after our pre-kid selves… and 2) they grew up listening to us tell them how we aren’t worth as much once our body is “used up” by childbirth and rearing. It’s a ridiculous concept, but we are one of the few cultures who see having kids as making you LESS of a strong and beautiful woman… what IS that???

  3. This is a wonderful reminder to be kind to everyone but, first and foremost to the person reflecting back to us in the mirror, our beautiful self! As mothers and role models we owe this to our daughters and sons who are silently watching and waiting to emulate us, whether we know it not.

  4. Do I ever love this! I remember the day I walked into the office of (who would’ve been) my plastic surgeon. Excited for my breasts to be larger, fuller, what our society considers ‘attractive’.
    Before surgery, I chickened out. I was afraid of what could go wrong.
    My fear of surgery saved my self esteem and the self esteem of my daughter (who is just a wee-human, 15 months young).
    Who would I be to say she’s beautiful and she should accept herself just the way she is while I spent thousands on a superficial surgery because I myself couldn’t accept my own body for what it is? A hypocrite. I would’ve been a hypocrite with an invalid and confusing message to my own child. I’m forever thankful that I decided no. We are all fine examples of beauty, my fellow lady-earthlings.

  5. the irony of an ad screaming “win a $10,000 modeling contract, click here!” in the middle of this beautiful story is not lost on me.

    i still struggle to make my mom believe she is beautiful. it’s never been a question to me. i am now 20.

  6. amazing – we are survivors are learning to live in our own bodies with the light that snines from within – someday we will be young girls with grandmother faces – beauty is in the eye of the beholder(s). Blessings to you all xo you are beautiful in ways you may not know.

  7. It is so important to try to mend broken wings from our childhood. It is crucial that we dont bring negativity to our children because of anything that happened to us. when we become a parent we are given a brand new journal in which to write..a better , warmer,loving story of our own as we raise our children. we are affected by our upbringing but what we do with our experiences is up to us. I chose to love my daughter,tell her she is beautiful, for she is.I tell her every day I love her. I did hear that all my life, but that is what it is, what I am now is what I have chosen to be..and I chose to be happy, thankful to be a mom. for every moment . My daughter is the confirmation that angels exist.

  8. Wow. I cried as I read this. Your article is so honest. So true. So real. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t I be beautiful? My children think I am, inside and out, which is really quite amazing because I think I’m neither! Once again, they are teaching me another important lesson. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  9. Love this. I may even say this to my son. I was just remembering today babysitting a little boy once who told his mother that she looked terrible. I knew even then that he was only parroting what he had heard her say. What a sad message to send to our children when we can’t even honor ourselves enough not to put ourselves down, especially when they come from us.

  10. Wow. Thank you. Just beautiful — your words, your sentiment, your heart, your mothering and your womanhood. I am humbled and inspired. I will try to follow in your footsteps because it is too important not to and I will share this with everyone I know as well. <3.

  11. My father taught my sister and me two very important things. He said “If I had 10 kids I would want them all to be girls.” and “If you act as good as you look you’ll be okay.”

    We need to learn to speak the language of virtue with children. We need to tell them how much we appreciate their patience in xxx situation. How kind and generous they were with their little brother. How, maybe, they can use a situation to practice sharing.

    This will balance all that talk of how we look.

  12. This is so beautiful, eloquent and necessary. We should ALL read this to remind ourselves how we self-loath (even a little) everyday. And this is what we teach our next generations … That perfection is a lie. Let’s stop lying !! Thank you.

  13. What a great idea! I never worried about getting gray as I got older (which I have a lot of), or having wrinkles (which I have a few of), or about forgetting to put makeup on or having the most fashionable clothes. Because I saw my mom and her mom growing older, turning gray and wrinkled and pudgy, not wearing makeup or fancy duds. And I thought they were neater’n sliced bread. Too bad we don’t all relax and enjoy ourselves and one another like that! But your post is a start!

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