By: Whitney Millard, Guest Blogger
The other day while waiting in a ten mile long line for the ladies room (I may be slightly exaggerating here, but it FELT like a ten mile long line) I could hear the people behind me talking. It was a mother and her maybe five-year-old daughter. They were talking about their day, what they had planned, where they would get lunch. When out of nowhere the mother looks at her little girl and says “Do you know how beautiful you are?”
Her question hit me square across the jaw.
I didn’t see or hear the little girl’s response; I was too overwhelmed by my heart doing somersaults. Do you know how beautiful you are? I thought so many things. I thought- don’t forget to tell her she’s smart and strong too, those are important! I thought wow, there is a little girl who might actually grow up without all the requisite feelings of inadequacy we as women seem to face regarding our appearance. I wondered how Mom saw herself, if she knew she was beautiful too, because I know any word she says to the contrary is going to impact her daughter’s view of herself. She looked like her mother after all.
Mostly I thought about my own behavior in the ladies’ room (not that guys, gross, I don’t talk about that stuff!) I mean what happens when I look in the mirror. It goes something like this- “Ugh, these bangs, I hate these bangs, they never do what I want them to!” “Why do I look so tired? I went to bed early.” “Is that a pimple? I am too old for this! I should not be getting pimples! I never used to get pimples.”
I’ve seen gorgeous women do the same thing, fluff their hair up or smooth it down, put on more lipstick, fuss with clothes they complain don’t fit right. I sometimes wonder if they give ladies’ rooms funhouse mirrors because no one ever seems to see themselves right. Least of all me. I leave the house looking presentable, I swear, and the next time I see myself I am a windblown and flattened version of the girl I saw last, and I don’t remember there being any breeze outside.
And when the man I share my life with tells me “Do you know how beautiful you are?” I laugh. “No, you’re beautiful!” Because I don’t know what to say. Because I don’t know what to feel. But what I would want the little girl waiting in line to do, what I would want us all to do, is internalize it. Know, without anyone having to tell us, without any hesitation, that we ARE beautiful. As we are. We are so much more too. We are capable and insightful and delightful, but it’s okay to know that we are beautiful. Beautiful is a soul thing. Beautiful is the way your voice sounds and your taste in music. It’s your generous spirit and your talent for listening. It’s your smile and your strength, your hair even when it’s messy and your optimistic attitude. It’s you when you’re sad and lost and confused, angry, serious, and laughing. It is you all the time.
So let me ask you again, do you know how beautiful you are?
Redefining our relationship to beauty is an ongoing process, but totally worth it!
- Take a few minutes today to look at yourself in the mirror, really LOOK, and as you make eye contact with yourself, lavish words of praise, love, and celebration on every feature you see! How does that make you feel? Share your story here!
Whitney Millard is a writer in Los Angeles attempting to make sense of this crazy world and it’s wonderful people. She launched her blog, WhittyWords.com last fall to have a place to lay down her (perhaps too many) thoughts and feelings. You can usually find her any place that has books, a stage, or boba tea and potstickers.
Image via blog.al.com