So I've seen a lot of articles recently that speak to being a better example for our children when it comes to perceptions of our own appearances. They're poignant and absolutely true. But the thing is, I've never had the same affliction that some of these women describe when they speak about how the envision themselves, and how the speak about themselves and their appearances in front of their children.
The core point behind the articles is to resolve the nagging voice inside your head that says "you're fat", "you're ugly", or worse "you're stupid", and demonstrate to our children that we in fact feel differently by virtue of how we actually speak out loud in response to those inner voices. The articles highlight how we envision the absolute and perfected beauty in our children, and fail to see any of that in ourselves.
I read this and suddenly, I feel pretty awesome about myself. You see, I have those same nagging voices. Truth is however, they are both true and slightly inaccurate. Because in my mind, beauty isn't what is outside. It really never has been. Nobody's ass is beautiful. It's an ass. And those old sad statements of "she has such a pretty face, if she'd only lose the weight" when you actually can't disassociate the two. At least not in my mind. If I have a pretty face, well then, c'est touts. It's a pretty face. That doesn't change because the size of it is larger or smaller or somehow related to the size of my very ugly ass or the belly that carried and nurtured my child that never somehow went away. I can honestly say that I never look at an actress or a model on a magazine and say - yep I'd die to look just like her. I have plenty I'd like to change on my body, don't get me wrong. But I don't really want to live up to someone else's distorted objectification of beauty - ever.
Beauty, in my mind, is entirely in one's character, which can manifest itself in the brightness of a smile; the twinkle of one's eye; the peak of one's eyebrow; or for that matter, the absolute perfection of any other feature. But to be clear, none of us are Shakespeare, and one arm is not generally any different than another. No foot is any less footy than someone else's. But spirits and characters are either made better or worse by the life experiences they've had. The outward features of their faces and bodies, are mere reflections of how life has affected the spirit within.
So with that, yes. My life has worn on my face, my hands and my body. They take a toll, and if you saw a photo of me without my child in my hands, you would probably see a weary, tired, and less than exuberant mom type person who spends no time cherishing herself, or wearing nice clothes. In a close up, you would see wrinkled, blemished skin, saddened and heavy eyes. You would see the subtle downturn at the corners of my lips and a furrowed brow - probably because my mind never stops. I'm planning and juggling a million thoughts in my head simultaneously every moment of every day, and trying to keep them all straight with one another. Motherhood represents a level of schizophrenia you could never possibly imagine if you weren't a part of the same sorority.
But if you saw a photo of me with my child, with my husband, with the two people who make my furrowed brow and headache worth wearing every day, you would see exactly what I see. Infinite beauty and happiness. Gentle kindness that speaks louder than any wrinkle, blemish or fat ass could yell. You would see the serenity of a woman who has devoted every breath to sustaining a happy, somewhat healthy family, and who is so very happy, glad, and proud to do it.
And then again, if you were to look at a photo of my husband or my daughter you would see my own beauty. Because what makes me beautiful, is the light and unparalleled love that I breathe into them every single day, and the light, power and radiance they breathe into me. And so yes, just like those other bloggers, I see the infinite beauty of my child every single moment of the day, but I also see that it's already a reflection of me. I see in the way she looks at me, that she feels that way too. And it never hurts when you're snuggling with her before bedtime and she looks at you, tweaking your cheek and says "you're so cute" of course, either.
At the end of the day however, whatever I do, to modify the way my life's experiences are reflecting on my outward appearance, are always an example of how I'm choosing to live my future. Not my past. And this has nothing to do with superficial opinions that what is on my outside is what is "beautiful" or "ugly" or "nondescript" for that matter. And when I speak to my daughter about what is beautiful, it will always be approached in terms that define it as smart, kind, happy, and wise. It will always be in terms that help her understand we are all beautiful, even if we don't sometimes see our physical appearance the way we feel it inside. And I plan to be honest with her that the nagging voices should never have a power over one's view of one's self. The nagging voices belong to people on the outside who don't have enough self awareness to see the beauty of this world in it's entirety. They can't appreciate true beauty, because no one's ever shown them their own.
I work to show my daughter every day that her beauty is inside her heart and her mind, and it's in her smile and her laugh. And I remember every single day that I'm beautiful like that too, even on the days when it's harder to do it. And the fact that I can proclaim that level of self awareness is something I'm truly grateful for.