I've been having a lot of conversations on looks and fashion with my ten-year-old daughter recently. She is not only at the age where she is beginning to notice these kinds of things, but is also standing on the edge of puberty and interest in boys. It is a very tricky time to say the least. So when a friend suggested the blog prompt 10 Things I Know to Be True, I decided to dedicate this post to her.
My girl, I may not know exactly what shoes to wear with that skirt, but I do hope these words ease your transition through adolescence into the beautiful young woman I can already see you becoming.To My Daughter on Beauty: 10 Things I Know to Be True
1) You are much more beautiful than you know
I hear you and your friends worrying about how you all look. I know even as you do this, that you are following in my footsteps and those of every other female that has ever walked this planet. I know I'm your mother and am therefore biased, but trust me on this. You have no need to worry. You are a beautiful girl who will turn into a beautiful woman. And the same goes for your friends and every other girl on this great planet.
2) An outfit is only as cute as it makes you feel
You love putting together an outfit and always have. It is some expression of your artsy nature. But as you move into your teenage years and begin to worry about what everyone else is wearing, know this. No matter how cute that dress or those boots look, if you do not feel comfortable while wearing them, you might as well go ahead and change outfits. Really, I'd rather be late than have you worry about how your shirt is sliding awkwardly around all day or have aching feet. There are too many important things to think about in life. Wear what makes you feel confident and happy. Period.
3) Dress for yourself and no one else.
It might feel really tempting in future years to wear something you think will impress that cute crush. It's even more tempting to wear something because you think it will make you look better in the eyes of your friends. However, anyone who thinks less of you based on what brand you wear or, God forbid, how sexy you dress is not worth your company. Anyone who truly loves you will value you holding true to your own self expression and values.
4) You are not fat.
Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way. Your body will change and grow and get thick and curvy in places. But you are not fat. You are strong and athletic, so much more so than I was at your age. Treasure those thighs for they enabled you to run faster than your brother and a whole den of cub scouts last year. Love your arms for they move in ways that are giving and kind. And that round face of yours lights up a room when you smile. Your body is a gift. Learn to love it for how it allows you to move through this world, not for how it measures up to some twisted image on a magazine.
5) Skinny does not equal happy.
Speaking of the "f" and "s" words, skinny does not necessarily equal happy. The times in my life when I've been my most thin have also been times when I've been the most unhappy. Being thin does not bring you joy. However, being quite overweight wasn't that much fun either as I often felt sluggish and ill. In the end, the numbers on the scale, high or low, matter much less than how you feel. So let's all shoot for healthy and well-adjusted and call it a day.
6) But happy does equal beautiful.
Really, this is my number one beauty tip. A girl can just roll out of bed complete with flannel PJs and bedhead, but if she is truly happy that joy is going to shine through as beauty. You won't always be happy and that's normal. But when you are, wear your joy like jewels.
7) Sunscreen and water are your friends.
I know I'm talking about looks like they don't matter and that's not exactly true. Most people do want to look their best, and people do get judged based on their image. So be sure and take care of what you have been given. In my humble opinion, sunscreen and water are a girl's two best friends. Sunscreen avoids many a future wrinkle. And good hydration doesn't just makes your kidneys happy. Have you ever seen what lack of water does to a grape? Yeah, no one wants to look like a raisin. Drink your water, my dear, and your skin will thank you.
8) A good night's sleep does a world of good
While we are talking about taking care of yourself, don't forget to get enough sleep. The times when I've felt the worst about how I look are the mornings when the bags under my eyes needed their own carrying case. Conversely the mornings when I looked in the mirror and liked what I've seen were days when I had slept so long and hard that my face showed it. Your body really does thank you for taking care of it, and getting enough rest is one of the biggest ways this is true.
9) It does matter what you eat, but not for the reasons you might think.
You've watched me change my eating habits and heard me tell you you're "healthy" more times than either of us can count. I hope that eventually I'll teach you to care about what you put in your body. Not because what you consume will either make you fat or skinny, but because what you put in your body will either make you healthy or ill. Your body needs nourished. If you feed it plenty of fruits and veggies and back off the junk, it will show. Not only in the size your figure but the glow of your skin and bounce in your step. And eating well will just make you plain feel better, which as I've already mentioned is half of what being beautiful is about.
10) If you think you are beautiful, the rest of the world will likely agree with you.
In the end, a lot of it comes down to this. If you are happy with who you are and carry yourself with joy and confidence, you will radiate beauty. I know it's easy to feel worried and insecure about your looks. But try to dig down deep and remember that you are loved and cherished for the wonderful, unique person you are. A girl lovely not only because of her gorgeous hair and smile, but because of her kindness and easy laugh. Like I said before, you have nothing to worry about. You are and will be a beautiful girl. But what matters most is that you believe it too.
Dena posts weekly on finding balance and grace in life at denadouglashobbs.com.
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