She ran into my bedroom and swirled around with her bright pink tutu on.
“I am a princess!!” She shouted for the whole neighborhood to hear, smiling ear to ear.
She then stopped in front of the mirror turned to the side with her face looking over her shoulder, with her booty sticking out and said
“Do I look beautiful?”… with genuine uncertainty in her voice.
And just like that, much to my dismay, I realized my daughter was mimicking me.
No, I don’t go around sticking out my booty asking people if I look beautiful (that would just be weird, right?!) but I do look at my front and back side often times before leaving the house to make sure a) I don’t have anyone’s food smeared on me anywhere and b) that I look half way decent before gracing the public with my presence (just an FYI my presence usually equals a disheveled momma of 3 who too often has bags under her eyes and workout clothes on that may or may not have been actually worked out it)…
But in my daughters eyes, I am stopping at the mirror, and looking to make sure I looked beautiful.
And you know what? If I had to guess, she has probably seen me more times than not tugging at a piece of clothing I have on and mumbling that it feels too tight. I’ll stand in front of that same mirror adding mascara and concealer to my sleepy eyes, all while her little innocent eyes watch with curiosity. I am almost certain there have been times she has seen me walk away with huffing and puffing about how this is as good as it gets..and definitely not feeling beautiful.
So as I sat there and saw my 3 year old daughter look at herself in the mirror wondering if she was beautiful I realized she saw me do it first… And honestly, it broke my heart.
Mommas, we have heard it a thousand times before. We know our children are always watching but we so often forget our view of ourselves can so easily become the lenses in which our daughters (and sons) see themselves. I have truly made conscious effort to try and never put emphasis on looks. Yet here we were.
Friends, we are our daughters first mirror. The reflection they see of you looking back at them, can determine how they eventually see themselves in the future.
I don’t know about you, but I want my daughter to look in the mirror and see strength and empowerment. I want her to see someone who is blessed and thankful. I want her to see a girl who is loved and cherished beyond words. And yes I want her to look herself in the eyes, both now as a playful toddler and years from now when she may one day be looking back at a postpartum body she doesn’t quite recognize and be able to feel beautiful.
I scooped my daughter up in my arms and told her a tutu didn’t make her beautiful. I went on to assure that her laugh and the way she loves adventure makes her beautiful. I explained to her that how she sang songs and played with her friends nicely made her Beautiful. I then told her how smart she was and how proud I was of her for some of the new things she was learning. But to be honest I wasn’t sure she was listening.
It wasn’t until about a week later I was tucking her into bed and she put her hands on my face and said wholeheartedly “momma you’re so smart and helpful”..In her little heart (and in mine) she realized that was the best compliment she could possibly give. It was in that moment I realized she had been listening. She had taken in the fact that we can be so much more than just beautiful.
Is there anything wrong with calling your child or someone you know beautiful? No, absolutely not. I want my daughter to know I think she is beautiful inside and out. I want her to know her daddy thinks her mommy is beautiful and that its okay to swirl around in a tutu and feel like a princess. But I also want her to know there is so so much more to her than that. I don’ want her to limit herself to beauty. I want her to know that her true beauty will never fully be found in a mirror.
And I want her to see that from me first.