with gratitude and love.
Part of me was scared to do it.
I was afraid to put myself out there and my stretch marks. I was afraid to state openly about my struggles with beauty. I was afraid to be honest and start this conversation. I was afraid of judgement. I was afraid of being called out. I was simply afraid of taking a stand publicly.
But then I looked around my dining room table and looked at my children: my 4 daughters and my son. I saw them laughing and chatting in full childhood innocence and naiveté. They were untouched by these thoughts that were weighing heavy on me. Except for my teenager. But they all would one day look in a magazine. They would watch a music video. They would see an ad. They would go out into the world. They would be undoubtedly judged on their outward appearance. I’ve had conversation after conversation with my eldest daughter. But I needed support in this. I couldn’t not write what was on my mind. I needed to share it for the sake of my daughters, my son, and myself.
So I pressed, “Publish.” And I took my stance and made a call to action.
With the exception of one person who vehemently disagreed with my message, I received nothing but support and love for my intentions and my heartfelt message. (And my eldest daughter solidified her own philosophy of beauty with some critical thought and conviction when she read an opposing view.)
I was able to sit at our table and read to my daughters (and son who was drawing on his face with chalk) all the BEAUTIFUL words given to us because it is really a family manifesto that I wrote about. People we know and people we didn’t know took the time to share their appreciation.
This type of love was more than I ever expected. And although in the past, I have struggled with how social media is used, there are moments of magic like yesterday where we all really felt love being poured out to us.
Every time the post was “shared” or “liked,” you took a stand. You gave me more to say to my children. You posted on Instagram your own selfies with no filters and your bodies with stretch marks (which I will now call “strength marks” because of my lovely friend who posted them on Instagram although it was hard for her and who then received an outpour of love for her courage and beauty.) In a world where my teenager is surrounded by mixed messages, where there are times when she may doubt what I say, when she may look in the mirror and wonder if she does need to fix herself up, your comments and words said to her, “I have your back, sister. You are beautiful just the way you are.”
Through a simple click of a button and a few words shared, you gave my daughters an army behind them.
We tried to do a group selfie but it’s hard with 6 people and it turned out like this:
The girls will change their appearance and experiment with make-up and hair colour but I hope it will be on their terms as they discover their own identity. I won’t project myself or my fears on them. I will say “Yes!” and I will say, “You are beautiful because you are being who you are.”
We spend a lot of time outdoors. We notice beauty in nature all the time. They point out the sound of the leaves and how that’s beautiful. They point to how the sky melds with the water at the beach and how that’s beautiful. We talk how we are connected to everything in nature and all of nature is inherently beautiful because it just is, and we feel that beauty deep in our soul like when we see the colours of a sunset or hear birdsong. Then aren’t we all inherently beautiful simply because we exist? Because we are all a part of nature? They can understand that train of thought. To them, it’s very simple. I am hoping with all of your positive messages that they hold on to that as we continue to talk about what beauty means to us individually as they grow older.
And I had comments that the sons need to hear the message too. Right on. In my house of 5 females, the boy hears it loud and clear. He hears the stories of warrior women. He sees his mother being strong physically just like his father. And he flexes his muscles right along side us:
Many comments yesterday mentioned all of this as a work-in-progress. The way we look at beauty, accepting ourselves through all our changes in our body as time passes, being kind to ourselves when we make poor choices that negatively affect how we physically feel, having moments of weakness and insecurity – yes, all a work-in-progress.
But at least we can talk about it. We can understand that there are different forms of beauty and that we are all in the struggle to feel good in our own skin. But look at those little faces. They don’t look in the mirror and pick themselves apart. Thank you for helping me prolong their blindness to that for a little longer. When we were talking about all the positivity flowing to us yesterday, I asked them what they thought beauty meant to them. #2 said, “Beauty is just being who you are.” Yes. You said it, girl.
Now let’s just keep that message flowing out there.
Thank you for the bottom of my heart for helping do just that. You said, “Yes!” to my girls yesterday.
And as a mom, there is nothing in this world better than that.