I’ve been feeling a little old and haggard lately. Not just fatigue and tired and busy mom of three kind of old and haggard, but the ugly, unattractive kind of old and haggard. I’m aging and I’m not very happy about it. It’s got me a little down.
Here’s a recent pic as evidence.
I have puffy bags under my eyes, my pores are too big, and my skin is pasty. I’m carrying an extra 10 pounds from the holidays. I hate those grooves forming between my nose and my too thin lips. And I am just so sick and tired of my hair. I cut bangs and got highlights to no avail. Really, I think I’m long overdue for some good hair days. I feel old. Just old.
The other day I was looking in the mirror, sighing over the girth of my hips and cellulite on my thighs, when I caught Penny, right behind me, sizing up her backside too. She smiled at me, clearly pleased she was doing grown up things, even if she didn’t quite understand the point. And it hit me, what am I teaching my girls about body image, self-esteem, and self-respect?
At their age I remember thinking how beautiful my mother was. She had this hot pink, terry cloth bikini she wore to sit in the kiddie pool with us and I remember thinking how gorgeous she was with her thick, black hair, pale skin, and that bikini. Oh, how I wanted one of my own.
My mother had two children at that point. I’m sure her tummy wasn’t as flat as it was pre-children, I’m sure she had lines or bags or grey hair she wasn’t happy about, but I didn’t see it. I just saw my mother, the most beautiful woman in the world. Did I see her inspecting herself in the mirror? I don’t remember that, but maybe, probably.
I can’t help but wonder how that affects a little girl, how it affects my little girls. I can tell they think I’m pretty, that they want to grow up to look like me, and here I am showing them through my actions that I’m not happy with what I have, that it’s not good enough, that it’s unattractive.
Well, that is a lesson I do not want to teach them. They are beautiful and I want them to see that always. So I’m going to try to change the way I look at myself. Try to appreciate what I have that I like, try to appreciate what I don’t like. I’m going to try wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see myself through their eyes. For a moment, maybe, I’ll see the most beautiful woman in the world.