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When your daughter is watching your every move, lessons about beauty are just a mascara swipe away.

Photo credit: @Elisall via Twenty20

If you’re here, you probably know that motherhood is no easy feat. There are moments of guilt, doubt, and fear balanced with immense feelings of joy, pride, and love. It’s a basket of emotions and every day an opportunity to challenge yourself. 

Even though my daughter is only 3 years old, she’s already at the stage where she wants to imitate my every move. She’s taking notes on the way I communicate, the things I enjoy, and how I care for myself and others.  

The author with her daughter.

If I’m being completely honest, it’s a little terrifying. Knowing she’s watching me challenges me to be better, but I’m very familiar with my own shortcomings. Am I always a good example? No, sometimes I cuss. But a slip of the tongue can easily be covered up with one of my distraction techniques. What scares me the most is that I’m projecting my issues onto her as I stumble through navigating my own imperfections. 

The other day, while applying my makeup, she popped into the bathroom asking a million questions. 

“What’s that? Can I have some? Can I do that?” she said repeatedly. Then she snatched my makeup sponge to tap her cheeks with it. 

“She’s taking notes on the way I communicate, the things I enjoy, and how I care for myself and others.” 

After applying my mascara, I looked down to see the sweetest face looking up at me, silently begging for some. With my mascara wand in hand, and her eyes closed, I gently brushed her lashes with the tip of my knuckle.

 She looked in the mirror. 

“I am beautiful!” she gleefully squealed.

What might have been a cute mother-daughter moment quickly filled me with guilt. 

Am I sending her the wrong messages?! I wondered. Does she think makeup makes her beautiful? Do I

I took a moment to reflect on what it meant to embrace my natural beauty and ways I could demonstrate that to my daughter. While not wearing makeup is an obvious choice, I thought more deeply and realized that embracing natural beauty means not succumbing to anyone’s beauty standard but your own. 

To truly embrace my natural beauty is to understand that beauty is how I feel on the inside. What I decide to do with my physical appearance is simply a reflection of that. 

This thought led me to another deeper, more important exploration: How am I demonstrating proper self-care? I mean, beyond the basic hygienic routines. 

“It’s important that I model the behavior I want them to imitate.”

In that moment, I realized that things I consider acts of self-care are also ways that I embrace my natural beauty: sleeping in when my body needs rest, cooking what my tastebuds crave, exfoliating my skin, and participating in prayer and meditation, to name a few. 

Admittedly, these are all things I enjoy more when I’m alone. But it’s important my children see that these things can also make me beam with happiness, like my daughter when she squealed after seeing her reflection. It’s important that I model the behavior I want them to imitate. Caring for and embracing their natural beauty both inside and out is a part of that; after all, they will do as I do not as I say. 

So while I hope my children always feel beautiful, I know there may be times when they feel like their outer appearance doesn’t translate to the world’s definition of beauty. I hope that they’ll practice self-care and continue to do the things that make them feel beautiful. And I hope that feeling will emanate from the inside out because that is what it truly means to feel beautiful.

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