Last week, my daughter came to me with tears in her eyes and told me that when she looked in the mirror she thought she looked ugly. She doesn’t like the dimples in her smile, she’s not a fan of her “butt-chin,” and she was afraid that she would never fit in because of “her face.”
My first thought?
“What the hell? Where did this come from?!? She is beautiful! Did some snarky kid say something to her to make her think this?!? Ugh…I wish I could home school her!”
I was completely unprepared for this conversation…she is 8 years old for goodness sakes! I was hoping she would stay in her childlike bubble for AT LEAST another 2 years!
I hugged her, and had to hold on for a few extra minutes while I attempted to hold back the tears that were welling up in my eyes.
She is the most precious little girl I have ever met! (Please note – I am biased!) How was it possible that this beautiful little girl saw anything different than what I saw when she looked in the mirror?
In that moment, her words brought me right back to the playground of my elementary school…
I remember being 8 years old and having those same insecurities. I still remember the day a little boy told me I would never be pretty because my nose was too big, or being teased for my buck teeth (thank God for braces). I remember being self-conscious about my own “butt chin.” I remember wishing my hair was straight and smooth like all the other girls in my class. I remember feeling like I didn’t belong.
Mostly, I remember how debilitating those feelings can be…
I try so hard to make sure my daughter knows that she is loved and accepted, but I have also come to realize that she will need to learn to love and accept herself, even the parts of her that she wishes were different.
Today, I understand that there are so many things that make a person beautiful that have absolutely nothing to do with appearance. I also understand that we live in a world that promotes and demands physical perfection. How I am I going to help my daughter recognize that she does not have to fit a mold in order to be accepted? How will I even begin to help her understand that she can be goofy, and intelligent, and thoughtful and kind and that THAT will make her just as beautiful as any other woman in the room? How do I help her understand that all women are beautiful, in all shapes and sizes?
I decided to start small…
This week, I started leaving little notes in her room for her each day. Affirmations that I hope she will carry with her throughout her school days.
“I am smart!”
“I am loved!”
“I am kind!”
“I am creative!”
“I am an excellent reader!”
These notes have nothing to do with her physical appearance, and are examples of all of the parts of her that shine!
I have also had to acknowledge that perhaps I haven’t been as kind to myself as I should be in front of her. If I am going to teach her how to love herself, I will need to start accepting my own imperfections in front of her as well! I need to walk the talk!
So I am committed to no longer saying things like, “Ugh…these pants make me look fat!” My imperfections are what make me unique, and there is nothing on the outside of me that changes what a strong, beautiful woman I have become on the inside.
I wish I could take all of my daughters insecurities and toss them out the window, I wish I could do that with my own too, but today I will just be present for her each day and make sure she knows she is loved.
“Because, my dear, your imperfections are perfection to me!”