She goes bounding up the stairs, taking them two at a time. I call after her, “You’re beautiful, you know that?” She turns around, and with flushed cheeks and a darling smile, says, “Of course I do! You tell me that all the time”.
This led me to wonder though, does she know it, or does she just know that I know it?
Amelia is entering the age where she is becoming more aware of how she looks, how others perceive her, and that there are standards the world has that no one really achieves. She is six, and while I want to live in a world where six year olds don’t think about those things, and where they only worry about what they are going to play, who they are going to pretend to be, and what doll they will get with their birthday money – I know this is not the case.
I had hoped that six was way too young for me to start worrying about this, but after reading about the Mother in Australia who found her 7 year old’s “diyet” list…my stomach churned and my heart dropped. I quickly came to the realization that now is when I need to start having these conversations with Amelia.
I remember being insecure with my body at a very young age. I remember very vividly looking in the mirrors at dance class and realizing that my body didn’t look the same as those other girls. My body was “fluffier” than theirs, and their hair was cooler – they had beautiful long hair, I had short “Annie” hair. I was no older than 7 and I was already comparing myself and my body to those of others.
This is something I never wanted for my daughters. It is one of the reasons I wanted to be a Mom to all boys. I didn’t want to have to face the reality of body issues and that they are not just for teenagers.
I want my girls to know that beauty comes from the inside, that while it is good to be healthy and strong, to eat well and to look nice – those things are just things. What matters is on the inside – how they treat others, how kind and loving they are, the compassion and nurture they show – these are the things that make beauty.
Of course as a family we talk about healthy eating and living – about sometimes treats and all the time foods. We talk about ways to stay strong and treat our bodies with respect. But we equal that out with talking about character and how important that one thing is.
I know this is not an easy road I am on. I have lots of nieces and while I think they are all so beautiful, I know they don’t always see it. I know my siblings have done everything in their power to help their daughters realize their true beauty, just as I will do with my girls.
I will tell them they are beautiful, I will encourage them, lift them up and do my best to be a safe place, so when they do feel insecurities, they know they can always talk to me.
I will just keep doing the best I can do and pray it is enough so that they always know they are beautiful.