There have been several posts about parenting and beauty that have really resonated with me lately. This beautiful Offbeat Mama post has a mom explaining why she pushes her own bodily insecurities aside for the sake of her daughters:
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.Then there was Allison Tate's essay about choosing to stay in the picture even when she wasn't looking her "best."
"Look at me, girls!" I say to them. "Look at how beautiful I am. I feel really beautiful, today."
I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won't be here -- and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now -- but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.I've fought through my own body image demons in my day, but the one that was hardest to slay was my loathing for my own chin. I know that sounds silly. It is silly. It's ridiculous, but it's also true.
Whenever I saw a picture of myself, I would hone in on my chin and criticize it. That's what I saw when I looked at myself: a flaw, a marred feature, an ugliness.
Then, there were a couple of pictures that stopped me dead in my tracks:
That chin, the one I had spent so much time hating and singling out as a flaw, had shown up in the most unexpected of places: on my daughter's absolutely perfect face.
As she's grown older, it's quite clearly kept the genetic predisposition, and it's gotten no less gorgeous.
I couldn't hate my chin anymore. Every time I looked at a picture of myself, I no longer saw that ugliness. I saw a piece of my daughter's beauty, and I remembered that any criticism I gave of my own "flaw" would be a criticism of hers. So what could I do instead? Could I look at a picture of myself and single out something else as a flaw. Could I decide that I weighed too much? Could I dislike my haircut? Could I wish those bags under my eyes would disappear?
Of course I could (and, admittedly, sometimes I do). But someday my daughter may think she weighs too much. She could dislike her haircut. She could have bags under her eyes, too. These things are just scapegoats for a more generalized insecurity, a more amorphous belief that we do not meet the standard--whatever that is.
The things that I say about my body are things that she's going to learn to say about her body. Every flaw I see in myself is a flaw I am teaching her to see in herself. Every cruel remark I make against my body is a cruel remark she learns to use against her own.
And she is beautiful. She is gorgeous. She is amazing.
So that she can remain that way, I must be, too. Have I mentioned to you how awesome my chin is?