It’s easy to tell your daughters that they are beautiful because you are able to see all of the beauty within them, inside and out. What message do we give them however, when we can’t as women find the same beauty in ourselves? Are we modeling that although they are beautiful when they are young, they are doomed to hate their bodies and looks as they get older?
Parents have a huge impact of how their children view themselves. If you are non-accepting of yourself, you will pass this right along to them. Now while I am not promoting conceit and arrogance, I am promoting a certain amount of self praise and appreciation that all women should have for themselves. We women are an amazing species! We juggle kids, spouses, homes, careers and any major catastrophe that should come across out paths. There is no reason not to be appreciative of who we are and how we look.
I had a niece whose husband constantly made cracks about her being a fatty (she was a size 8) and jokes about her nose. She would laugh it off but I knew deep down inside it was a hurtful thing to have the man who supposedly loved you, joke in such a cruel way. Whether he meant it intentionally or not, it still had the same hurtful impact. What’s worse was that his children were learning from this. They are learning that being a size 8 is fat and that it is not ok to have imperfections on their body or face. After all, if their own father can’t accept their mother for who she is, then who on earth will ever accept them. This is when young girls start to strive for perfection and end up with low self esteem and eating disorders. They get enough bombardment from the media about how they should look they certainly don’t need the same at home.
So the bottom line is this, you must acknowledge the beauty in yourself. You are a role model for your daughters; they will learn from you. If you don’t take any time with your appearance and hate how you look then this is what you are teaching them. On the other hand, if you take pride in how you look, they undoubtedly will pick up the same attitudes. They will in turn, not be afraid to be imperfect nor will they view aging as a negative process.
Your body may not be what it used to be but there is always something positive that you can find about yourself. No one has six pack abs forever nor do they have perky breasts or perfect hair and teeth. Everyone has something that they don’t like about their appearance but the trick is to show your daughters how you embrace yourself as a whole and not just focus in on the negatives. Be quick to give yourself compliments and let them experience you enjoying your appearance. This is not a conceited attitude it is an expression of self worth. Self esteem is how your view yourself by what others think of you, self worth is how you view yourself by what you think of yourself.
So share with your daughters how you like your hair or your long legs. Let them know that although your breasts are not as they once were that breastfeeding was one of the highlights of your life and so worth it. Don’t always use your finances on your children. Make sure that you budget for that pedicure or take the time to do it yourself. Buy a new hat or pair of shoes. Take the time to apply make-up if that is your thing but don’t give the message that you are hideous without it. This gives your daughter’s the message that they should hide their natural beauty behind a mask. Once when I was putting on make-up my little niece was watching me and asked me why I was doing that. Her mom didn’t wear make-up so she was curious. I told her that I did it because it was fun and I liked to; that was my simple explanation. Women don’t have to wear make-up to cover wrinkles, make their eyes appear bigger or lips poutier, they can simply wear make-up because they want to!
I observed a grandmother and her granddaughter in a pool one time and the little girl asked her grandmother what were those red and purple lines on her legs. The grandmother said that sometimes as you get older you get veins on your legs. The little girl paused for a minute and then said “they are so pretty”. I was flabbergasted! How many women see the veins on their legs as they get older as pretty? This little girl was looking at her grandmother with innocent love untainted by what the world has deemed beautiful. This is how we need to look at ourselves. As I get older, I do not fear the wrinkles. To be honest, it’s an adjustment, but it is also part of the aging process. I refuse to let getting older make me feel less self worth about myself. I will randomly comment to my daughter that I’m having a great hair day or that I love how this outfit or piece of jewelry looks on me. I see this same attitude in her ad it makes me happy. I see her embracing her imperfections and feeling comfortable in her own skin. It has been a battle because the world will tell her otherwise, but what you have to keep in mind is that no matter what the world says, the parent will 90% of the time have the greatest impact!
By Dawn Varela
Read more at AboutTheChildren.org