- My daughter doesn't care if I take a shower every day.
- My daughter doesn't notice if my curly hair is a crazy mess or if every hair is in place.
- My daughter doesn't mind if my eyebrows need shaping.
- My daughter doesn't care if I am 10 pounds, 15 pounds, or 20 pounds more than I would like to be.
- My daughter doesn't care if my belly jiggles or that there is extra padding on my hips.
- My daughter doesn't worry about whether or not my legs are shaved.
- My daughter doesn't care about the clothes that I wear.
- My daughter doesn't mind if I have leave the house without makeup.
- My daughter doesn't notice if my hair needs to be washed.
- My daughter doesn't care that my skin is a little pale.
- My daughter doesn't see the scar above my lip.
- My daughter is oblivious to the stretch marks around my belly button.
- My daughter doesn't care about an occasional blemish on my face.
- My daughter doesn't worry about the fact that I am in my mid-thirties and wish that I still looked like I did in my twenties.
My daughter doesn't care, notice, or worry about all of these things and more. So why should I?
It does not matter where you live, what country you are from, what culture you embrace. If you are a woman, there will be some sort of standard placed upon you that determines whether or not you see yourself as beautiful of feel outwardly beautiful. Women have been doing things to our body for centuries in an effort to be more physically appealing. But to and for whom? Surely not for ourselves. I mean, what woman wants to spend hours of her day doing things to her body in order to make herself “presentable” and beautiful?
I will admit, I feel better when I take a shower every day and when my hair is washed. But am I any more beautiful when I do? I hate having unshaved legs. But do my legs, in their most natural state make me any less of a person? I am constantly poking at my pot belly and squeezing the fat on my hips, wishing that my 20 year old body would magically return. Yes, I will leave the house without makeup but I feel like everyone is staring at me, making a mental note of how unattractive I am and can't I “get myself together.”
This is all such a shame. I am trying to instill in my daughter a positive self-image. I want her to love herself and love others for what is on the inside, for what they offer the world, and not what they look like externally. I want her to be color blind. I want her to look past the warts, the winkles, and the scars we all have. And yet, I am making her very aware of mine.
My daughter recently turned 2 ½ but I catch her turning sideways and looking in the mirror, sucking in her belly and pinching her waist. My sweet, innocent toddler pretends to shave her legs and sometimes mine. My baby girl with her dazzling smile and twinkling eyes loves to pretend to put on makeup. My pure hearted angel looks at her reflection after I arrange her curly locks into a ponytail and says “pretty.”
WHAT HAVE I DONE?
Mothers and fathers too, PLEASE consider how your actions and reactions to your physical, outward appearance are affecting your children. That poke to your belly is being noticed and filed away. The complaining about your crazy hair is being soaked in. Scrutinizing every wrinkle and grey hair is sending a message that aging is to be avoided.
Our jobs as parents are to help our children to love themselves and to develop healthy self-esteem. Yes, the reality is that they will be faced with the value society has placed on external beauty but instead of feeding into this, why not help our children cope with the pressures placed on them and help them to rise above what “society” dictates? Why encourage them to focus on their outward “flaws” by becoming overly engaged with our own? Why can't we truly love ourselves?
It is time to unite together as women, as mothers, to set an example for our children. It does not matter what country we are living in and what the beauty standards are. We need to show our children, especially our daughters that they have value because of who they are as people and not because of what they look like. We need to model confidence and a healthy self-esteem. We need to stand up and shout “I Love Me!” We need to encourage our children to ignore the reflection in the mirror and listen to what comes from their heart. Soul is more important than body. Soul is what will move this country past its ills. Beauty, however you define it, will not.
This post previously appeared in part at Multicultural Familia.