Tag Archives: femininity

Modeling Impossible Beauty

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.”

Robin took this picture of me. What does she see when she sees me? What do I want her to see?

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.”

m4s0n501

Lipstick Kisses

This post was inspired by the Identity in Balance series at Balancing Jane. Go check out all the amazing posts on this topic!

The writing prompt from Balancing Jane:

We all wear many labels. Some we wear our whole lives, and some shift as our relationships to those around us change. We are mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, teachers, students, friends, feminists, Democrats, Republicans, daughters, sons, employees, bosses, and a host of other identities that weave together to make us who we are in any particular time and space. Sometimes those identities easily merge together, but often there are excesses in the overlap, spaces that might confuse us, spaces that make it challenging to figure out who we are. Balancing Jane maintains that it is in those spaces that we find out the most about ourselves, that when we are forced to simultaneously own two labels that we might not have placed together we figure out what we stand for. It is also by inhabiting those spaces that we learn to appreciate other people, for if we can be more than one thing, then so can they, and that means that our preconceived notions of them are always–at best–an oversimplification.  

Pick any two labels that you wear (by choice or necessity) and reflect on how they intersect. Start with I am _________ and _______.

I am a feminist mom, and I wear lipstick. Continue reading