Monday, 16 June 2014

"Am I Pretty?"

    "Am I Pretty?"  with that question my world came crumbling down a little.  I thought that I had built up my girls self esteem, so that they were happy in the skin they are in.  I did not want them to have to suffer the way I suffered, and yet I now see it was inevitable.  Insecurity seems to a girls right of passage, I just pray that it does not take my girls the thirty odd years it took me to become comfortable with who they are.
    From the time that my children were babies I have told them how beautiful they are, how smart they are, how special they are.  When they were small and beginning their school careers I would ask them "Who is the prettiest girl in school?"  They would reply "me".  I would then pat their heads and tell them "That's right."   I truly do think that they are all stunningly beautiful children, that they are brilliant and a true gift to me and to the world that they will one day inherit.  It seems funny to me sometimes when I look at them and marvel that their father and I could have created such beautiful children.  It also seems a little vain, because the girls look like me and Rowan looks like his dad with red hair.
    Growing up I would look in the mirror, and I knew that I was beautiful.  I loved the shape and colour of my eyes, I loved my high celtic cheekbones.  I "knew" that I was pretty, and so I wondered why the boys that I so loved did not see that same beauty that I saw when I looked in the mirror.  It must mean that there was something wrong with me.  I was too fat, too strange.  I set out to change the "too fat" (even though now when I look at pictures of that same 'too fat' girl, I see a girl who is both beautiful and perfect) and developed an eating disorder, and yet there was no trail of boys knocking at my door.  The boys that I liked, liked my younger, naturally blonde, athletic, perky, demure sister.  It was devastating to my self esteem.  I set my self worth on the opinion of "boys".  I allowed others to set my value, and even saying that, they (those boys) never said a single negative word to me, I saw their lack of interest as distain.  It made me in many ways blame my sister for my ineptitude, and her natural beauty. It was not until university that the boys I liked liked me back.  Don't get me wrong,  I had boyfriends in high school, but university was different.
    I think about that girl that I was and I would like to shake her, and then bring her in for a comforting hug and whisper to her that she is perfect.  I would like to tell her to just be happy with who she is, don't allow others to set your self worth.  For me self acceptance came after I began dating my husband.  He adored me, he thought that I was beautiful inside and out.  It was his love and acceptance that allowed me to finally see what he saw in me, inside myself.  To be honest I did not gain this self acceptance and self love until I was in my mid-thirties.  That may seem like too long to wait, but some people never ever learn this, so I consider myself lucky that I learned that lesson, no matter how late.
    "Am I pretty?"  I take a deep breath, my mind trying to decide how to handle this, wanting to cry.  "Yes you are pretty, in fact I think that you are beautiful.  I am pretty, and you look like me, only you have all of your Dad's best qualities too.  You have my eyes, but Dad's beautiful brown eye colour.  You have my nose, but your Dad's full lips.  Oh you are beautiful, inside and out."   I then gave her a big hug, hoping that that almost painful love I feel for her, for them all would seep into her skin, her bones and her soul.  She seemed satisfied, it was like she needed outside reassurance.
    I know that this is not the last I will see of this female insecurity.  I was fooling myself when I thought that all my words of confidence, all of my almost painful love would act like a vaccine against self doubt.  In the end all I can do is try to act like a good example for them, to try to model self acceptance.  All I can do is love them, and pray that the world does not break them, and if the world does break them, I need to be there with my band-aids to help put them back together again.

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