Last week, I sat in a room with about 20 other women and we talked about beauty and the stereotypes that women have to deal with. (Yes, men have to deal with some too, but for the purpose of this post, let’s just focus on women.)
We talked about self-esteem and the struggle women have to be pretty but not vapid, smart but not nerdy, sexy but not slutty. I’ve struggled with body image/beauty image my whole life. I don’t know many women who could say they haven’t. It’s a never ending struggle…accepting who we are. Throw in RAISING a girl and I start to hyperventilate, gasping for air because HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT when I can barely get it right myself.
And there we have it.
How do I teach my daughter to love herself, appreciate herself, see her beauty, when I still struggle with it on the daily?
That’s a bit heavy.
I think about it every day. What I’m teaching her…what’ she’s learning from me.
She watches me in the mirror as I put on my make-up. She mimics what I do and asks why I wear make-up, when she can.
It’s a hard question to answer, why I wear make-up. The honest answer is because it makes me feel attractive and I don’t feel very pretty without it. But I’m not going to say that to her. To her, I say that it’s fun, that I like how it makes me feel. I try to showcase it as a BONUS, not at a necessity.
It’s funny though. Sometimes I’ll get all made up for a date night or an event and the kids don’t care for it at all. My son has actually told me he likes it better when I don’t wear anything on my face. I need to hold on to that on the days where I’m not feeling 100%. He’s a smart kid.
In the group setting, we talked about what we think Real Beauty is. We actually recorded each other discussing our answers and our challenges, which was much tougher than I thought it would be. After mulling it over for a bit, I came up with my answer.
Real beauty is in a smile, a laugh. It’s when pure joy and happiness takes over your entire face. I got emotional during the recording because I know there are women out there who rarely smile, who don’t ever feel beautiful, EVER. I could cry right now thinking about it.
But if you captured those women in a private moment, where you were complementing them or witnessing them caught in a humourous moment, you’d see it. You’d see their beauty. Because with a smile, you can’t hide it. It shines for all to see.
That’s what I want to teach my daughter. It’s what I want to teach my son.
It’s not about the size of your body or the type of hair you have. It’s not about your skin tone or texture.
Beauty lies in your smile. It’s in the twinkle of your eye, the dimple in your cheek. The rest is just a bonus.
A huge thank you to Dove for sponsoring the workshop and the larger Mom 2.0 conference in general. Your generosity is much appreciated.