About a year ago a friend included me on a Facebook feed. An open discussion of beauty. Why did we all not feel beautiful. This particular always greeted me with, ‘Hello, beautiful.’ Initially I would blanch at it, seemed too naked a compliment, something I wanted to hear so much, but didn’t want the need on my face to show. The discussion fizzled. Some of us offered ways that we had felt better about ourselves over the years. I don’t think anyone came out feeling beautiful.
I love that young friend, with her desire to change the world. I can remember years ago wanted to turn forces around, stomping around cursing the injustices that I felt. I’ve gotten more fatalistic about it as of late. That maybe it’s just inherent, that we all feel insecure.
I saw Cindy Crawford on a talk show and the host mentioned that Donald Trump had spoken of her to the host, the Donald had said that she was a great business woman. Cindy’s response?
“Oh, I thought you were going to say that he thought I was beautiful.” Are you serious?
I remember talking to my mother-in-law about all this, I blamed the media, the skinny models, and the companies that perpetuate that ideal of beauty. She shrugged,
“I think it’s because men look at us.” That felt so grotesquely accurate. That throughout the ages women have always felt inadequate. I remember seeing a political cartoon from the turn of the century, it depicted two old women walking through a gallery and saying,
“Venuses, always Venuses!” Complaining that only beautiful women were depicted.
I’ve gone up and I’ve gone down. Some stages of my life feeling beautiful, fit, and strong. Other times feeling overweight, and flaw laden. The times where I’ve felt good I’ve almost felt like I’ve had to hide it. I remember sitting in a room with friends as they went through several features, insulting them as they went, I felt like I almost had to make something up to get along with them.
So what do I with two little daughters that I think are the most beautiful little creations? Some say downplay their appearance. Emphasize their intelligence and skills. I like that. But I never struggled with being confident in my intelligence and honing skills is a life long endeavor. How do we keep from passing on a legacy of insecurity?
One friend talked about a conversation that she had with her husband where he pointed out that she had to stop saying denigrating things about her body in front of her daughter. Oh, give me strength. Keep my mouth shut? A sacrifice on the altar of self control. Because sometimes it feels good to just dig in and insult yourself. You know that you’re being ridiculous, and if you say something ridiculous someone will tell you that you’re wrong, because even though you’re pretty sure that you’re ridiculous, you still need to hear it.
I want them to have beauty in their back pocket. A card they whip out when they want it. Not to rely on it, to know that they don’t need to worry about it. How do I greet them?