I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. I wish you could see how beautiful you are; how strong you are; how giving you are; how amazing you are. I wish you could understand how proud I am of you. I wish, for just one moment, you could see yourself through my eyes.
Last night you broke down in tears. You hated the way you looked and knew everyone would judge you for what you were wearing, what your hair looked like, and for your size. I tried to convince you that you looked beautiful and that the hair you were so excited about was indeed perfect, that the outfit you had on looked just fine, and that your size was perfect no matter if you are a string bean or a girl with a little more to hug. You didn’t believe me. You still worried and fretted and cried. My heart broke for you.
I know that the world has a much stronger voice than mine right now. You are bombarded with messages through your music, through the shows you watch, through magazines, and even through some of the people we know. You are told that if you aren’t a size 2 with perfect skin and hair, a gorgeous boyfriend on your arm, fabulous skills in music or sports or some other area, and are the homecoming queen, then you are a loser. It makes me so sad for not only you, but for so many girls out there who fall victim to this line of thinking. That pain of feeling like you aren’t enough, like you never will be good enough, is real. And it hurts so badly.
I know that pain. I was once a teenage girl. I felt all those feelings you are feeling now. I haven’t forgotten the tears I cried as I compared myself to other girls. I haven’t forgotten the disappointment I felt when nothing fit right and I thought I looked fat no matter what I wore. I haven’t forgotten the sadness I felt when I realized that I would never be one of the “popular” girls and would never wear a crown on my head. I see the faces of the boys who teased me and hear the voices of the girls who put me down. Being a teenager is hard. It was when I was a kid and I know it still is now for you.
I hate that our society destroys our girls this way. I hate that because you are normal you are made to feel not normal. It’s not fair. The image that you feel you have to live up to and that you have to achieve is not real. That perfect girl with the perfect skin and the perfect body and the perfect boyfriend and the perfect grades and the perfect life- she doesn’t exist. Instead, we have girls who have pimples, bodies that just don’t fit in their jeans the right way, and hair that doesn’t stay perfectly coiffed all day long. We have girls who have real struggles in life with grades, medical problems, and perhaps with family. We have girls, who, despite these struggles, are so beautiful both inside and out. They give eagerly to others, they spread love, and they put others before themselves. Unfortunately much of our society doesn’t care about these things.
As I watched you crying last night I couldn’t help but worry that I have reinforced some of these ideas as well. The scars I carry around from my own childhood are deep. It’s been hard to move past them. They have affected me my whole life. I have talked to you about them and I have even written about them, but I have not been successful in moving past them. I struggle with the way I look and have fought hard to try to find peace with it. It’s difficult though and I worry that my own struggle has colored the way you look at yourself.
It’s easy to see the beauty and goodness in someone else, especially in those we love so much. It’s much harder to see the beauty and goodness in ourselves. I know when you look at me you don’t see the extra weight I’ve put on through the years nor the stretch marks that riddle my body. You only see your mother, the woman who takes care of you and loves you no matter what. You look at me and see beauty. You find it difficult to understand that I look at you and see the same.
There is a saying that beauty is only skin deep. But this isn’t true. Beauty goes right to the core of our being. Beauty radiates from the inside out. Beauty is in our hearts and minds and in our souls. Beauty is not our weight, our hair, our skin, or our jeans size. It is in the way we open our hearts to others and the way we love unconditionally. Beauty is in how we respond when others are hurting and when we sacrifice for those who are in need. True beauty is not gaged by the image we see in the mirror. True beauty is gaged by how God’s love is reflected in our lives.
I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. I see your eyes sparkle with joy and a smile that lights up not only your face but anyone else who happens to be blessed to see it. I see arms that scoop up babies when they are crying or hug me when I feel sad, but that are also so strong they can help me lift all the heavy stuff I can’t lift on my own. I see hands that dutifully wash dishes and braid hair but that are also so gentle they can comfort and calm down even the most frightened child. I hear a laugh that is so contagious that those around you can’t help but laugh and feel happy too.
I look at you and I see God’s love. I see it in the way you so eagerly want to serve others. I see it in the way you sacrifice for your family and friends. I see it in your eyes, your smile, your words and actions. When I look at you I am overwhelmed at how beautiful you are. Not only do I think you are physically beautiful, but I think you possess an inner beauty that many are lacking. It radiates through you and encompasses you.
My beautiful Daughter, I love you so much. I love you not because of how you look or what size clothes you wear, no, I love you because you are an amazing child of God. You are made in His image and likeness. You are a reflection of not only God’s love but you are a reflection of your father’s and my love too. You are a precious gift that we were blessed to receive. When I look at you I see one of the most beautiful people in the entire world. I see goodness, light, joy, hope, and love reflected in your eyes. I pray that one day when you look in the mirror you will see these things too and know that you are beautiful.