In light of the Dove experiment…and those who advocate not complimenting little girls on their dresses…and those who have recently discovered that their mothers are ugly, I offer you this:
The blog post you may expect from my three children in 15 years:
You didn’t grow up with our mom, did you? Your mom didn’t take every available opportunity to use the mirror while brushing her teeth or sweep her hair into a ponytail several times a day just for the opportunity to see her biceps flex, did she? We didn’t really see what she was looking at. But she thought she was beautiful and so did we.
Our mom worked out. Friends asked why. “Because I’m good at it,” Mom responded. And we learned to engage in activities we loved and at which we could excel.
And, wait a minute…your mom didn’t try on multiple pairs of shoes on a Saturday morning to get just the right look because her legs are her best asset, no wait, it’s her arms, no wait it’s her tush. Oh, never mind, all the shoes look hot--which pair is your favorite?
One of us once asked Mom to finish our cheese sandwich. “I can’t have that,” she responded. “Oh, are you on a diet?” Our friends’ moms were on diets. That meant they didn’t eat certain things. We were never sure why. “A diet?! Dairy is bad for my heart AND it upsets my stomach. Is that a diet?!” We couldn’t answer that question because we didn’t know.
Mom would stand happily in front of the mirror, primping. Dad begged, “Do you have to wear lipstick? You’re just so beautiful without it…” “Oh, thanks. I know.” She’d smile. “But have you seen this new color? It’s beautiful….” And, with rare exception, Dad would lose, and Mom would go out with lipstick on.
Sometimes, while we were snuggling in bed or on the couch, we’d comment on her “soft tummy.” Mom would smile. And ignore us. As we got older she confessed that she had a high school boyfriend who liked to take naps on her “soft tummy.” He much preferred it to anyone else’s rock-hard abs, he said. It was the one time we found her basing her opinion of her body on what someone else thought. It confused us. Yet, it was totally in line with her “I’m BEAUTIFUL” attitude so it kind of made sense.
Once Mom came home from working out and whined to Dad, “Leanna called me ‘skinny!’” “…So?” Dad asked. “Pshah…she said it while struggling to curl her 5-pound weights. *I* use 15-pound weights to curl.”
“Skinny” was never as big a compliment in our house as “strong” or “fit” was. And we were complimented regularly on our appearance. How about you? Did your parents tell you you were adorable, beautiful, handsome, cute? Or were they afraid it gave the wrong message? We were told we were adorable, stunning, beautiful--all three of us, regardless of our gender. Our parents taught us to give thought to our appearance. To understand that we’d be judged on how clean we look and how well our clothes fit. We learned early on that when we wanted to demonstrate our respect for someone we were visiting, or even feel more confident in school on a test day, we would dress “appropriately.” And, yes, it made a difference.
We think we’ve figured out why you are so critical of yourselves, women. It seems you are afraid that believing in your own beauty will make you seem pompous. If you announce a flaw ("I'm fat!"), perhaps I will refute your claim. ("Oh, no, sweetie, you're perfect!") And in the spirit of "saying is believing," you critical women start believing everything you say. It’s not actually attractive. It’s actually NOT attractive.
But we figured out why you do it. It’s simple.
You didn’t grow up with our mother. If you did, you’d believe you were beautiful, just like she does, just like we do. It’s an objective truth.
So, go ahead. Tell us we’re adorable, stunning, cute. We’ve heard it before. Just don't hate us because we’re beautiful. And we are. Are you?