Our Daughters Are Listening
By Jamie Rich
As women, we’ve all stood in front of a mirror and shook our heads at our reflection and complained about extra pounds, dark circles under our eyes, or some other physical trait dissatisfying us.
Many mornings I catch myself sitting at my vanity, spreading on concealer and foundation, thoughtlessly saying things like, “I’m looking pretty rough today.”
Usually my 7-year-old daughter is not far from earshot, dressing for school, brushing her teeth or even admiring her own appearance in the full-length mirror in my bathroom.
Recently, something caught my attention. She started to criticize herself.
“I hate my hair,” she said. “And my eyes look terrible!”
Of course, I followed her comments with a shower of assurances and standard-issue statements about inner beauty being the only thing that matters. But what I failed to realize, was that as a mom I need to squelch the self-loathing and celebrate my own attributes, flaws and all. This perspective needed to be changed not only for myself, but more importantly, for my daughters.
When we criticize our appearance, and we all do, our daughters are listening. And it’s impossible for impressionable souls not to turn the analysis inward.
I recently attended a panel session, sponsored by Dove, where psychologists, activists and TV personalities discussed self-esteem, as part of the Women in the World Summit in New York. Many poignant messages emerged throughout the conversation, moderated by ABC news correspondent Deborah Roberts. Panelist Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” even wiped off her stage makeup and removed false eyelashes to show that she was strong enough to face hundreds of audience members and the world bare-faced, despite admitting she’s a makeup junkie. The message that struck me the most, however, touched on this issue of instilling self-esteem in our daughters by loving ourselves first.
“You would never denigrate your daughter’s appearance, so why would you denigrate your own,” one panelist said.
While I still plan on wearing makeup this Mothers’ Day, I pledge to stop focusing on my flaws and verbalizing physical insecurities, ending the denigration and hopefully teaching my girls self-confidence and how to honor themselves along the way.