Why I Tell My Daughters They Are Beautiful
The culture of feminism is strong in today’s society. One of the many stances that feminism promotes is that we as parents should not be placing emphasis on children’s appearances; and that we should instead compliment them on their abilities.
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Women want to be equal to men – that’s fine. Don’t worry… I GET IT. I am not naive in my thinking that sexism does not exist. BUT, it doesn’t mean that I will not tell my daughters they are beautiful.
I grew up being told that I was ugly
I was told that I looked like a housemaid – different from the rest of our genetic lines.
I was told that I was fat; and that when I turned of age, I would need liposuction and a nose job. I was so fat, it seems, that I needed to eat separately from the family, so as to control my intake. I would get a ham sandwich and glass of milk. But don’t worry, they said – you can have it in front of the TV.
Growing up, my friends were all beautiful. And like a messed up TV show, our mothers discussed what they could do to transform me.
“Why don’t you get her into a sport, so that she can eat whatever she wants?” suggested one mother.
“Maybe she eats too much McDonald’s” said another.
One time, I was in a comfortable lounging position, when I was asked, “Have you ever had an elephant lay on you?”
I stupidly replied, saying “No”; not realizing that I was the elephant they were referring to.
I grew up feeling ugly
I woke up each day wondering – How many friends will I have today? What if the teacher calls on me and I don’t know the answer? I grew up anxious.
I felt lesser than everyone around me. And although, it hurt me – somewhere during all this, I accepted that I would never be beautiful.
Instead, I battled with Bulimia, in the hope that I could still eat and be in control of my weight. It worked. I was so good at it, that I managed to know just exactly how much to let out so that my insides would be left with just enough to keep my stomach from grumbling. I was skinny as!
I turned to seeking validation from boys. No – I wasn’t promiscuous; let’s get that straight.
I sought validation from boys by having long term boyfriends – older ones who presumably valued what was on the inside, Granted that at 15, I thought 17 was older, and 25 was ancient.
I struggled with my relationships
I never felt that I was enough. When I thought that things were not going well – I would take control and be the heart-breaker; determined to never be the one left with a broken heart.
When my ex-husband and I first started dating; I asked, as love-struck kids do… “Was it love at first sight for you?”
Nothing prepared me for his response.
He said that it wasn’t. That I wasn’t his type – I was too dark. He liked lighter skinned girls. And that I was heavier set than he preferred.
I don’t think I ever asked why he
chose settled for me. I was probably too scared to know. God knows why we stayed together. Gosh, what an idiot I was.
On a positive note though, I would not have my beautiful daughters today had I not made that mistake.
A perverted sense of self-worth
For a very long time, my sense of self was so poor that I felt I did not have a place in this beautiful world. I unknowingly developed a perverted sense of self-worth from people who I deemed to be less than myself — less attractive, less intelligent, less performing… anything less — if only to make myself seem like more.
It took me many, many years of a painful life, with equally painful lessons, to learn how to finally love myself.
It took many mistakes, moving to a different country, a difficult divorce, and a second chance to knock me off my self-appointed pedestal to learn that I am enough.
Looking back, I now know that I wasn’t fat. I was a regular kid. Jeez.
And while we might think that what we experience as children should not dictate our paths into adulthood, it would be foolish to think that it doesn’t. We often hear that as young children, we have beautiful, shiny, and clean slates. We should know that everything that we tell our children – every encounter they experience – goes on to that slate.
We should ALSO know that, as children, we don’t quite realize that just like a magic slate, we can lift that transparent sheet and start over – with a clean slate.
Yes – we try really hard as parents to do what’s right for our children. But regardless of how much we try, we will inevitably – one way or another – stuff up our children without meaning to.
We should tell our daughters they are beautiful
I agree… we should focus on our children’s abilities and praise them for the things they can do and have achieved. But I ALSO think that we should tell our daughters they are beautiful. Let them start off in life LOVING WHO THEY ARE – and that includes how they look.
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Help them to appreciate their freckles – or that little mole on their cheek, their slightly crooked tooth, the little dimples that show when they smile, or how their hair falls on their soft little faces when they laugh.
Give your children the gift of a healthy self-esteem.
Give your children the gift of a healthy self-esteem. Because when the time comes, and when they step out into the big wide world – that self-esteem is what will push them when times are tough.
And they will know that whatever happens – they grew up in that safe and loving home that YOU have provided them with. They will remember the home that YOU have built for them… their safe place. That much – they will thank you for.
So tell them… tell them they are intelligent… clever… funny… and BEAUTIFUL.
Need a place to start? Get the FREE Kids’ Daily Dose of Awesome here and remind your children how awesome they are 7 days a week! I’ve also included a free template so that you can customize it and fill it in yourself too.