I had one of those mornings Monday.
You know what I’m talking about — yes, gentlemen, I know you have them too so don’t roll your eyes — nothing fit right. It was a fat day. I blame it on the time change, just because that’s what I’m blaming everything on this week.
It looked like a tornado had hit my closet and spewed the worst possible combinations of clothes onto my bed, which surrounded my sleepy-eyed toddler Sophie. She looked back at me each time I pulled a shirt on and said “huuuurt, mama, hurry!” and began chanting her sitter’s name. (In our house, Sophie uses “hurt” to mean shirt as well as hurt, which means mild injuries aren’t always immediately recognized.)
“I’m sorry Sophie. I feel fa — ” Whoa. I didn’t want to finish that sentence. I didn’t want to tell her what I was thinking, what she would most likely be facing in a few years no matter what I do to try and shield her and protect her from it. I was 8 years old, playing dress-up with a friend when I realized my body didn’t look the same in clothes that hers did.
If Sophie follows in my footsteps she has six years before she notices imperfections in her body.
I don’t know how to prevent it. I don’t know how to help her see herself as beautiful, inside and out. I don’t know how to prevent her from comparing herself to her friends, to the women she sees on magazine covers at the grocery store, to the women on billboards. I don’t know how to keep her from standing in front of a mirror one day scrutinizing her body.
Instead I turned to her, hugged her and said “I’m sorry Sophie. I don’t know what to wear today. I can’t make up my mind. I’ll hurry.”
But that moment has me thinking. How do we teach our babies to love themselves? To have confidence in who they are and how they look?
I want the universe to tell her every single day that she is beautiful. Since that’s not going to happen, I’ll have to do it.
To my dearest Sophie (or to you if you need to hear this today, just change it around to make it applicable to you and consider it a message from the universe):
You are beautiful. You are beautiful because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. No one else has ever lived that is exactly like you, and no one else ever will. You are beautiful because you have the best traits from your daddy and from me. Yes, I believe that even on the days I say you’re acting just like your daddy or he says that to you about me.
You are beautiful because you have my big blue eyes and auburn hair. You are beautiful because you have your daddy’s smile and facial expressions. You are beautiful because you giggle when you’re happy and you cry when you’re upset. You are beautiful because you want to hug others and bring comfort to someone who’s upset. You are beautiful because you blow kisses and wave to strangers and are confused when they don’t wave and say “hi” back.
You are beautiful even if the boy you have a crush on tells you you’re not. You’re beautiful even when the girl in your class makes fun of your hair or those new jeans you couldn’t wait to wear to school. You are beautiful even though we don’t always see eye to eye. You are beautiful without makeup. You are beautiful without trying to squeeze into an outfit featured on the runways. You are beautiful even when you feel fat.
People will try to make you feel like you aren’t beautiful, but you are.
You are beautiful because you are you.
Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen. You can connect with her at email@example.com, facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.