I have two daughters, and they are still quite young — six and two, to be exact. But even now, I can see that my six-year-old is starting to have a sense of what it means to be “beautiful” or “cute” and, yes, even “sexy” — at least in the world’s eyes.
The shows on TV and the ads on billboards and in malls don’t help at all, and even if my husband and I do our best to limit what our children are exposed to, we don’t have total control over what they see at relatives’ homes when we’re not around, or when we’re on the road.
So I thought I’d write this for my daughters — and for every one of you out there who has a little girl, too.
We live in a world that is crazy at times, where crazy things happen, and young people are influenced to do crazy things, and I believe that we parents serve as our children’s “guideposts” to help them maneuver through all the craziness out there.
To my little girls, this is for you, especially for my six-year-old. I hope these words will help you see how truly beautiful and unique you are.
1. You are beautiful just the way you are. You may still be young, but I already notice how you look at yourself in the mirror, and how conscious you are sometimes of how you look.
Please believe me when I say that you are a beautiful girl — just the way you are. And as you grow up, don’t ever, ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
2. Your clothes don’t define your beauty. I see you choose your clothes carefully sometimes, and I wonder if you’ll ever go through the “torture” I did when I was a tween all the way into teenhood.
I had no idea what “color coordinated” meant, and usually just went with the flow, wearing whatever was “in fashion” at the time. (Remind me to show you my old photos where I wore blouses with shoulder pads, with matching stirrup pants!)
I envied my friends who had signature clothes, and secretly wished that your Lolo was not as frugal as he was. I thought that I needed those “designer” and “fashionable” clothes to be beautiful.
The truth is: it’s not what you wear that makes you beautiful. Your clothes only serve to enhance your looks. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing something, you’re free to set it aside — or even give it away. You don’t need to look “sexy” or have fab “OOTDs” to be “beautiful.”
What matters is that you feel happy and confident about how you look — even if you’re wearing an old pair of jeans and your favorite t-shirt.
3. It’s OK if you don’t shave your eyebrows (or your legs, for that matter). Let me tell you something about body hair, whether it’s on your face, under your arms or elsewhere — there is a purpose why every part of our body is made a certain way. Yes, even body hair has a function (thermoregulation and, would you believe, sexual attraction?)
It took me a long while to realize this, and I had to deal with feelings of shame over having facial hair, particularly on my upper lip, plus being “balbon” everywhere. I used to shave my legs because I wanted to feel “beautiful” and “fit in.” I eventually stopped, though, when I started to accept that I was already beautiful, body hair and all.
So, my daughter, listen to me:
If you have a “moustache,” it’s OK.
If you have hairy legs and arms, it’s OK.
If you want to pluck or shave your eyebrows or have them shaped in any way, it’s OK.
If you want to shave your legs or have them waxed or use creams to remove the hair on any part of your body, it’s OK.
And if you don’t want to do any of the above, it’s OK, too.
What matters most is that you are healthy, and have a healthy self-image as well.
4. If it takes you 30 years to learn how to put on makeup, it’s perfectly fine. Makeup, and other beauty enhancers for that matter (e.g. hair, skin, face and body treatments, etc.) exist for exactly that purpose: to enhance your looks. If you never have a hot oil treatment or facial in your life, it’s OK. It will not affect your inherent beauty.
Take it from your Mama, who still doesn’t know how to put on makeup (though I’m willing to learn). I’ve survived 30+ years just knowing how to apply lipstick and powder, but I managed to attract a wonderful spouse and have beautiful children just the same!
And if you don’t believe me, even the famous makeup artist Bobbi Brown who founded Bobbi Brown Cosmetics said this when she was asked about what advice she wished her mother had given her about “looking good”:
“That how I feel about myself is more important than how I look. Feeling confident, being comfortable in your skin—that's what really makes you beautiful."
5. Your body is a perfectly packaged “gift” — don’t abuse it nor let others do so. You will only have one body in this life, so treat it well. Don’t let others dictate how you feel about your body — and believe that you have the best body that is especially for you.
And that’s why you should take care of it: Get enough rest, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. Drink lots of water.
Most importantly: Don’t let others dictate what you should or should not do with your body. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, either by the way they act or look at you, don’t be afraid to tell a trusted adult — like me or your Papa.
6. Take these “beauty tips” to heart. I read this somewhere once, and I thought I’d share it with you — these are great “time-tested beauty tips” to live by:
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone.
7. You are as beautiful as you think you are. Remember this: Our thoughts are powerful things. As I read somewhere, “you’re a product of your thoughts. You are who you are because of the thoughts you’ve allowed to fill your mind.”
So, believe me, you are beautiful. Be happy with who you are, and your beauty will flow from within. The world might tell you otherwise, but remember that you are already beautiful because you are greatly loved and immensely cherished — just the way you are.
Again, this took me a long time to realize for myself, so I want you to never, ever forget it.
And just so you won’t, I’ll make sure to read The Twits by Roald Dahl to you one day, because it’s there where he famously wrote:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
So go ahead, my dear sweet daughter. Let the goodness that I know is within you “shine out of your face.” You are lovely, you are beautiful, you are loved — not just by me, but also by so many other people. And that will never, ever, ever change.