I have never been happy with the way that I look. I can look back at pictures of myself and realize that I was good looking at times in the past, but at that time, I felt unattractive. I've always felt fat. I am totally fat now, but in high school, I was healthy and muscled, and I felt fat. I wasn't.
I've never felt beautiful. Even on my wedding day, I didn't feel beautiful. I still don't see a beautiful bride when I look at my wedding pictures (which is why most of my purchased wedding pictures do not include full pictures of my face, only turning my head).
As I was growing up, I was told I was not beautiful. I could not be beautiful. I could only ever be cute. In fact, the Mad Scientist is the only person to ever call me beautiful. And I know he believes it. And in moments, I've gotten close to believing him, then the little voice returns chanting that I can never be beautiful.
I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and beauty is only skin deep. I know that what is on the outside doesn't matter. But it never felt good to not be a beauty. It hurt to know nobody thought I was beautiful growing up (I didn't meet the Mad Scientist until I was in my late 20s).
So when my children were born and I saw how beautiful they were, I couldn't help but let them know it. I must tell TRex and DQ how beautiful they are to me at least once a day, if not more. I want them to know they are beautiful to me and that nothing can take that away.
But then, I read an article earlier this week about continuing disparities in the legal profession between men and women. Despite women representing more than 50% of law school graduates for a long time now, the percentage of women in management positions in firms is still minimal. The article went on to discuss how women are still mostly judged by looks, rather than skills.
I've read dozens of similar articles about professional women, about raising girls, or about how society starts when girls are young to define the girls' self-worth through looks, which is bad.
So, I started to think I was bad for telling my children I think they are beautiful. I cursed myself for ohhing and ahhing when DQ dresses up and I tell her she is pretty. I was angry for singling out TRex to let him know is handsome when he gets dressed. I wanted to thwart my subconscious for trying to keep my children from feeling the pain I had and constantly telling them how beautiful I think they are.
And then I realized that I don't only comment on my childrens' looks. I'm not raising children that will only be good enough if they are beauty queens or fashion models. I don't only give my children praise for dressing well or being pretty. I tell them I love them and hug them when they ride a bike, make a new picture, form a new sign in ASL, or sing a new song. I praise them for their accomplishments both physical, intellectual, and creative. (And I am not trying to raise entitled children, so I also scold them when they are naughty, make them work, and they are never allowed to say they can't and must use "I'll try".)
At the end of the day, society is going to make its own judgments about my kids. It is my job to help provide them the tools to succeed and thrive in this world no matter what is thrown at them. One of those tools is being comfortable in their own skin. Knowing that their mother thinks they are beautiful won't help them in 8th grade when they are picked on, but I hope it will provide them with protection so that they don't believe the mean things that will be said.
What do you think?