I wasn't always the messy-haired, overweight, frumpy, dumpy, pile of withering self-esteem you see before you. At times in the past 44 years I have been beautiful. Model beautiful. Catcall beautiful. Picture-perfect and readily photographed beautiful. But something changed along the way, between having three kids, a hysterectomy, cultivating some wrinkles and grey hair and stretch marks and adult acne and brittle nails and less-than-perfect teeth and a wardrobe that can only be described as "laundered" — my body image has taken a total nosedive. And my kids know it. Because when my daughter — my beautiful, joyous, smart and sweet daughter — tells me I look pretty, I correct her. And I think a lot of moms do the same.
"You look pretty, Mommy."
"Oh, I do not. I am fat. I look old. I hate my hair."
Stop me if you've heard this song before. Or if you have sung it yourself.
The saddest part about this song is that when we sing it — and I know we do, whether it be out loud or hummed quietly to ourselves when we pass a mirror — we are teaching it to our daughters, which is sadly and truthfully illustrated in this new Dove ad.
I think it's important we remember our daughters mimic us. To them, we are the most important role model they have, and they look to us for how they view themselves. We are, at times, their mirror. I never want my girl growing up to hear all the negative things I tell myself, either out loud or when I scowl when I look in the mirror. I want her to know how truly beautiful she is, which means I have to start seeing myself as beautiful. I may no longer be as physically attractive as I once was. But like the little girl in the video, I love my face because it is smiley. I love my arms because they are capable of giving excellent hugs. I love my eyes because they are as blue as they ever were, and they let me see all the people around me that I love.
I think that's a far better message to give my girl than the ones she has heard from me so far.
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