I have two daughters. My youngest is four now (just barely!) and wears slippers, puts on “makeups” which usually means a glittery blue eyeshadow and pink chapstick. She went through a phase where she wore princess pajamas as her wardrobe and now has a fun matching style. Currently she is cruising around in a brown and turquoise paisley skirt with a tank top I cannot explain. It’s pink, yellow, black, mint green, and white with a complex geometrical design. With her new blue Elsa slippers of course. And she loves it. And I let her wear whatever crazy outfit she chooses. Because she feels pretty. And even if I wasn’t her mom I’d say she’s gorgeous with her strawberry blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
My other daughter has Down Syndrome. She has my dark blonde hair, huge blue eyes and an infectious smile. She’s also a fan of dresses or skirts especially when they twirl. She’s usually got messy hair as she hates it when I brush her hair, often has crumbs on her face or in her hair as napkins are rarely used. But she adores mirrors and her reflection. Give her a camera and she will take selfies for hours. One of my favorite things is that she will admire her reflection and give me the sign for beautiful. And even though she only has a few words that she says, beautiful is one of them.
I need my girls to feel that way. While I want them to succeed in whatever they want to do in life, my biggest wish is that they are happy and feel good about themselves. To do that I have to learn something new. I have to learn how to love myself as I am.
I’m not anywhere near the weight I need to be. I’m full of freckles and lots of stretch marks. My husband complimented me the other day and I brushed him off. He, very rightly so, was mad at me for doing that. I had a person pay a compliment to me the other day and I just sat there. She said my job was to accept that, let it soak in and say thank you. It’s foreign to me.
But right now my girls know they are beautiful. They need to feel that way. Beauty is not your size, your freckles, your stretch marks, and everyone is truly beautiful in their own way.
And so I take selfies at the gym without makeup, messy and sweaty hair. I am strong and I am fighting for myself. I bought bright red lipstick, only because I never have worn something so bold and fun. And it really is fun.
And with this awakening of myself, I have noticed I am happier. And by example, I hope my children see that beauty isn’t your size. It’s taking time to love yourself. Just as you are. And, yes, I will still wear the bright red lipstick and dye my hair if I want to. I might put on the little black dress and paint my toenails. But I’m also okay with the woman in the yoga pants and tennis shoes. I’m grateful for who I am and for those who love me that way. Flaws and all! And I hope that my girls can see that. And they will see themselves as the beautiful girls they are.