Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beautiful Like Me

"If you would just lose five pounds, you could be really pretty".

That's what I heard when I was in high school and had to be soaking wet to weigh more than a hundred pounds. I heard this from my mother. She hates herself and always has. And, as I reflected her, she taught me to hate myself too. I put myself on a diet for women over 35 when I was 17 because I wanted to be pretty. My mother gave me the book and told me to try it.

I don't want pity for this. I don't want to be told that I'm beautiful just the way I am. I don't want to be coddled or pampered, and I don't want my friends to feel like they need to boost my confidence. I don't want to be told I'm beautiful. I just want to be. And I want that to be enough.

I now have a little girl. When I was pregnant, we discussed all of the genetic parts we hoped she'd get. I hope she gets your legs and your smile. Well, I hope she gets your eyes and your laughter. When she was born, she looked like a complete stranger to me because I had all of the genetics worked out in my brain. She is stunningly beautiful. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and I haven't been able to stop staring at her since she first took a breath of air.

I know that self loathing was modeled for me. I know what not to do. Now what DO I do? I read an article about a woman facing the same question. No Barbies, no fashion magazines, and no beauty stereotypes around. Appear as though you are enjoying each bite of food, be it broccoli or be it chocolate pie. When this woman's daughter turned 4, she said to her mom, "please don't get f-a-t". It's out there. It's going to be out there, and we have to be out there with it.

This same publication had in its fashion section an article about a slimming men's undergarment, but we weren't to call it a corset. Why not call it a corset? The author was pleased that men may now have to suffer what women have had to the first time they go to the bedroom with someone. That someone sees that things may have been covered and aren't what they appeared to be.

It's so out there, and I can't close it down for my girl. I can't make it okay. If she's beautiful, that means ugly exists. Then what is ugly?

I'm not going to lie. My child is beautiful. There is something about her appearance that draws people to her. My sister-in-law suggested, in jest, that we get her an agent. I also know that a few years living with my self loathing will kill all that she knows to be beautiful about herself. I know my subtle refusal to accept a compliment, my posture, and my discussion about what is ugly about me will be absorbed into my beautiful girl. Sure, I'll never tell her anything but that she is beautiful. She'll never hear what I heard out loud. But if I don't change, she'll hear it in all the ways that count. But she won't be able to name it and call it out to fight.

Sister-in-law, I'm the one that needs an agent, because I'm embarking on the greatest acting role of my life. I want to act it so strongly that I lose myself in it and believe it myself. I want my daughter to be beautiful like me.


  1. What a thought-provokin post! I have every confidence that because of your care, your lovely child will come to understand that true beauty is the whole person -- inside and out. And that she brings value to the world and to the people that know her because of who she IS, and not because of what she looks like.

  2. I love this. i too have two young daughters and i want to put aside my insecurites so they never have to deal with the backlash. everyday i wake up and realize the good. its helped tremendously

  3. Too much crying today -
    Beautiful KDM - ;-)

    Annie's brain is gonna be on fire! More beauty to come like mom.

  4. Annie really is next-level beautiful.