When Your Daughter Looks in the Mirror

When a five-year-old girl looks in the mirror, what does she see? Hopefully, she spots a friend. Someone she's going to make silly faces at and try to out maneuver. What does this girl see when she's eight? Or thirteen? Or sixteen?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I see someone who needs to stand up straight and suck in her belly--a belly that has carried three children, the smallest of whom was eight pounds, thirteen ounces. A belly that also prefers Krispy Kreme to sit ups. A belly that I hate.

And my daughters have picked up on this. Eventually, the mirror will stop being a friend and become a harsh critic. Ninety-seven percent of women will have an I-Hate-My-Body thought today.

We can blame TV, the internet, and glossy fashion magazines for an unrealistic expectation of beauty. We can blame air-brusing and Photoshop. But girls first learn about beauty standards from mom and other important women in their lives. My girls first learned it from me. Looking in the mirror, are you complaining about your gray hairs, crooked nose, or your weight? Are you setting the unrealistic expectations?

While working on my book BEAUTIFUL, I needed to redefine my essential definition of beauty.

I read dozens of posts and quotes on beauty. Watched numerous Dove commercials. And looked at the research on the subject--everything from the golden ratio, which mathematically examines feature placements on a face, to the studies on why men place a higher value on looks in their mate than women do.

And of course, I checked out Merriam-Webster's definition of beautythe quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit

I finally settled on this.

Beauty is a confidence driven by what you do and how you feel.

I'm never going to have a flat stomach. My hair will forever require chemicals. The laugh lines are here to stay. But what I can ultimately control is what I say to the girl in the mirror. "You're a good mom! And you rock those jeans."

                                    art by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

                                    art by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Be kind to yourself. It matters! Your daughters are listening.