If you missed this amazing post at Offbeat Mama, go read it now.
From “I’ve started telling my daughters I’m beautiful:”
“The thing is, my children are perfect… It’s easy to see that they’re beautiful. I am slow and I am tired. I am round and sagging. I am harried. I am sexless. I am getting older.
I am beautiful. How can this be? How can any of this be true?
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.”
I especially love the line about “when they start to feel like women, they remember how I thought of myself as ugly.”
For all our/my talk about how we talk to girls about our bodies, it’s true that I focus more on their appearance than my own. On their bodily experiences. “That dress looks fun for playing! You look so comfortable! You seem so joyful!” But I don’t talk about my comfort, my joy, my feelings. Sometimes I worry that my body will be the elephant in the room as the girls grow up. I look at them and wonder what their bodies will become when they hit adolescence. I worry that they will be fat like me, or have breasts they can’t control. I feel sorry for them. I wish I could preserve their slender beauty forever.
The feminist Mom in me hates that. But I know I have to love myself for them to love themselves. It’s extremely hard. I have to work on this. Amanda writes:
“How confusing it must have been to have me say to them, “You think I am beautiful, but you are wrong. You are small and you love me, so you’re not smart enough to know how unattractive I am. I know I am ugly because I see myself with mean eyes. You are my child and I love you, but I will not allow myself to be pretty, for you. No matter how shining you are when you watch me brushing my hair and pulling my dress over my head. No matter how much you want to be just like me, I can’t be beautiful for you and I don’t know why.”