Dear daughter of mine,
I watched you tonight, beaming at yourself in the mirror. You twirled in delight over your new dress and the braid I’d earlier worked into your hair. You smiled your brightest smile, and batted your eyes at yourself. And when you caught me watching, you said, “I pretty, mommy.”
I beamed right back and said, “Yes you are, sweet girl. You’re beautiful.”
But inside, part of me was sad. Because as I watched you, so completely confident in the image staring back at you from that mirror, I wondered how long it might be before that confidence starts to fade. Before you start picking that image apart, instead of lifting her up the way you did tonight.
I don’t want it to ever happen. I want you to always look at yourself the way you did tonight, to always see the beauty I see in you every day. Unfortunately, I know that for girls especially, things don’t always work out that way. I know that as you grow older, you’ll become more aware of the expectations society has placed upon us: messages about perfection, weight, and unattainable ideals. I know that no matter how hard I work to keep those expectations and messages out of our home, they’ll find you somewhere — in the movies you watch, the music you listen to, and the gossip being shared by your friends.
Personally, I’ve made so many strides myself in learning to appreciate my own reflection in the mirror. I’m also forever conscious of the words I say about that reflection in your presence. But I know that even if I model for you the self-worth I hope you’ll always exude, the day will come when someone somewhere will chip away at that belief in yourself. It might happen a little bit at a time, or all at once without warning. Girls today don’t make it through their youth unscathed. They don’t survive childhood without finding something in the mirror they wish that they could change.
So when that day comes, sweet girl, when you find yourself looking in the mirror wishing away your thighs, or yearning for bigger breasts, or loathing the curve of your nose or the color of your eyes, I hope you’ll remember this …
I see you. I see you more clearly than anyone else ever will. And I love every part of you.
- Your legs will be perfect, whatever shape they are, because they will be strong enough to carry you through this life.
- Your breasts will be yours, which will make them exactly right.
- Your button nose and almond eyes will forever be my favorite.
That body of yours will allow you to run, to draw, to write, and to breathe. Which will be what makes it all a part of your perfection.
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But your beauty won’t just come from the physical image in the mirror. It will be evident in your kindness toward others. Your empathy. Your compassion. Your desire to always do what’s right. These are qualities I see in you even now, qualities I will forever be proud to see you embody. And in these traits of yours, there is so much more beauty than could ever be achieved by the perfect blowout or the right shade for your nails.
Yes, you are beautiful my sweet girl. But you are also so much more than that. And you always will be. No matter how you may feel about that image in the mirror.
There will be people who cut you down. People who tell you that you are too big, or too small. That your skin color isn’t right, or your hair doesn’t fall the way it should. You will inevitably face the sting of someone you find attractive not seeing the same in you. And it will hurt. And make you question yourself. And leave you feeling less than.
I know that when that day comes, when that moment arrives, there will be very little I can do or say to ease the sting.
But I hope that somewhere, in the back of your mind, my voice will be whispering through the pain, “You are perfect. You are beautiful. You are everything you should be, exactly as you are.”
Because you are, sweet girl. You are perfect. You are beautiful. And you are everything you should be, exactly as you are.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Love, your proud mama
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