As a 31 year old mother to 2 little girls, I often think about the example I lead and what impact it will have on them as they begin to grow up as young girls developing a sense of self esteem and confidence. I reflect on my childhood and adolescent years… I grew up putting so much weight on beauty and physical appearance. Always striving for the acceptance of others, believing my physical appearance was priority and if I strived for perfection, life might be easier. I can see now, that I had a giant void in self esteem and confidence as a young woman. To believe the only thing I had to offer this world, was based on the way I looked is heartbreaking for me as a mother. To ever imagine my daughters growing up with this lack of self esteem, takes my heart and rips it out. My 2 year old is a beautiful little girl. I realize I’m her mother and I could not think anything different, but set aside that and she is truly a very pretty girl. I catch myself telling her how pretty and beautiful she is everyday. And its always followed by the thought, “now tell her how smart, kind, sweet and funny she is.” Am I overthinking this? Is there something wrong with telling your daughter she is beautiful? Are you subconsciously telling her that being pretty is the ONLY thing that matters?!?!
I think about my actions as a mother. Everything I do and say is teaching my children something. Whether I think they are listening or not, they are learning from my behavior. At the end of the day am I proud of the example I set for them? Did I complain about my weight? Did I gossip about another? Did I speak out in anger or frustration to my husband? What kind of woman are they observing their mother to be? When they are grown, what memories will they have of me? Will they remember me to be the mom that devoted her days to caring for them, loving them unconditionally, keeping the family and the home together day to day, acting silly and having fun but still being the guidance they needed as they grew up? The mom who was always there for every game, recital, school function, the mom who was never late at pick up and who was always involved in their activities. These are things that matter to me most.
My body has had 2 children and it may never look like it did before, but today I have more confidence than I ever have. I don’t stare in the mirror and criticize my figure anymore, I don’t go hungry and over exercise so I can hope the scale reads one pound less tomorrow. I remember being 105 pounds, a size 0, less than 15% body fat- yet when I looked in the mirror, all I saw were my flaws. I would have never been happy with myself in that state. It became clear to me then that happiness does not come when you are skinnier, richer, more successful, more… (fill in the blank). Happiness comes when you accept yourself for who you are, and you have the courage to be who YOU truly want to be.
It’s a delicate balance that has taken me a lifetime to grasp. A lover of beauty, I have a strong passion and appreciation for the art of makeup, for the glamorous transformation makeup can give. And to say that makeup doesn’t give me a boost in confidence, would not be truthful. But its not only important its CRUCIAL we teach our daughters what REAL beauty is. Real beauty is NOT measured in makeup, or a hair style, or an outfit. Real beauty is measured in how you treat others, how you make people feel when they interact with you, how you feel about yourself. Real beauty is not a mold. Real beauty comes in all different “shapes and sizes.” Real beauty can last a lifetime, and its gets better with age, with children, with life. As a mother, this might be one of the most important lessons I will commit to teaching my daughters. Because I believe that with a strong sense of self worth, a woman is unstoppable.