So, I just put a post up on Facebook and I really thought I should put it on my blog too. I read this article on Yahoo about young girls posting anonymous videos on YouTube asking ‘am I ugly?’ and it absolutely
infuriated me broke my heart. Here is what I wrote on FB:
This makes me so sad. Being a mother of an incredibly beautiful (on the inside and on the outside) little girl, and having been a young girl myself, this just breaks my heart. Little girls (and I’m sure boys too), posting videos asking ‘am I ugly??’, asking complete strangers to verify, or worse, completely attack and abuse their beauty. What these girls need is their family, friends, and especial…ly society to tell them that YES, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. You are beautiful no matter your skin color, your shape, your weight, your name, your beliefs, your family. No matter what. Because that’s exactly how God made us – all different,all worthy and all deserving. Your heart makes you beautiful. What’s on the inside, not just what people see on the outside, makes you beautiful. Sometimes it’s hard to realize this, and some days it’s really hard to be out in the world when you feel ‘ugly’, but you know your heart and you know there is something beautiful to share. I can remember a time in my life (a very long time, and not that long ago), when I didn’t believe this one bit. I searched for the attention, for the verification. But now I can say, yes I am beautiful. And I do not need to ask one single person if I am. I am beautiful, and others see me as beautiful because of it. We have a responsibility to our children to teach them this and SHOW THEM this everyday. We are all beautiful, in our own ways, and that is what is beautiful about the lives God gives us.
I wanted to say it infuriated me at first, but really it did so much more than that. It broke my heart, all over again really, because I know that feeling. The searching, desperate feeling, begging for anyone, everyone to tell me I was beautiful. But really, it was much more than the beautiful compliments I was seeking out. I was searching for acceptance, understanding, and love. Love for myself.
One of the great things I’ve learned from C (and through other friends over time and my amazing therapist!) is that you have GOT to love yourself. Nobody else on this Earth matters more than you, and nobody can love you more than YOU. And if we love ourselves, others can love us too. I never understood this concept, but I can now say that I do. And, what’s more, is that we do not need everyone in this world to love us, and this is very okay. It’s how it should be actually. When we love ourselves, we welcome those into our world that want to love us and see our beauty too. It goes along with the whole ‘we cannot take care of others until we take care of ourselves first’…we need to love ourselves and see our beauty first. (Obviously we love those that do not see their full beauty, but still…you get my point. It’s easier to love someone who loves themselves.)
What these young people need is US telling them that they are beautiful, that you can be beautiful no matter what. And we need to SHOW THEM. Actions speak louder than words (cliche, yes, but very true). A great example: I can tell my daughter 5 times to please pick up her toys before bathtime. She will usually choose not to listen. But, I can bend down and start picking them up myself, showing her what should be done, and she is right down there with me in seconds picking up her toys. It works the same in almost every aspect of life. We show our daughters that we can be beautiful regardles of what others tell us, regardless of what society is telling us, and they have that much more potential to see their beauty. These things obviously cannot be forced because unfortunately, we have bullies in this world, shallow individuals (who, sadly, probably have this same issue) and ads thrown at us from every direction telling us what is considered beautiful, what love should look like.
I wrote a paper my sophomore year of college – I still remember it. The professsor gave me a perfect score on it and had me read it to the class. My paper was about our society and the demands put on young people, the demands to be a certain pretty, a certain skinny, a certain perfect. I wrote about how ads in magazines are not real, how they are photoshopped, altered and turned into something fake. But then, young girls see these ‘fake’ perfects and think, ‘well I must not be pretty, since I don’t look like her’. They don’t look like something that is completely made up. And really, in the first place, even if she wasn’t an altered image, if she really was the size 2, tall, with no scars, cellulite or wide hips, even then, our first thought should not be that we are ugly and this person is what beautiful is. It should be that yes, maybe this person is beautiful, but so am I. I am different than this person, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I wrote about the abundant issues of low self-esteem, alcoholism, anorexia and bulimia – how all of these could be directly related to this idea of not being a certain beautiful. (Yes, I do know this isn’t always the case…) My professor and classmates were impressed and seemed to pretty much agree with what I thought.
They did not know the girl that wrote this had battled with anorexia. That she would starve herself for days, weak at her job, eating some crackers, hating every single thing she saw in the mirror because she didn’t feel beautiful. They didn’t know that never in her life did she feel worthy of other people’s love and compliments, and now looking back, not even worthy of her own love. They didn’t know she had no idea what it felt like to be truly confident. They didn’t know that by this point, she had ruined her first year at a college, drinking the year away, and would continue to drink the real world away for the next couple of years. Drinking, making bad decisions, seeking out any sort of attention from any guy that would give it. They did not know this girl that wrote such a great essay, was speaking from her own experience and pain. Her own lack of love for herself and inability to see her own beauty.
I cannot say that I am completely NOT this girl anymore. Because I still struggle with confidence and allowing myself to love myself unconditionally. I still struggle with accepting others unconditional love too. But I am learning more everyday that it is good to accept all of this. And it is good to be a beautiful person. That I am a beautiful person. You know what? IT IS FREEDOM. We all deserve this freedom. Our daughters and sons deserve this freedom. They deserve to feel beautiful every day of their lives – even though we know that is just not how it will go. But maybe, if we can at least make that part of their lives easier for them, teach them that they are beautiful, it will make everyday life that much easier and better. When my daughter goes to college and suffers a breakup, I do not want her to fall apart completely, grasping for that person’s last inkling of love and acknowledgement of her existence. Giving up the things she loves and her dignity because she feels someone else decides on her beauty. I want her to be able to recognize that she is beautiful regardless of someone else’s love, that she can be strong and move on in her life.
Seeing our beauty and sharing it with others is such a powerful tool. We all deserve this. I think it’s about time we take some responsibility for what we are teaching our children. We can keep teaching them that what others think is what is really important, that our own selves really don’t matter at all when it comes to our hearts and the love we deserve. Or we can start teaching them that the beauty is in our differences, and in our hearts. And as soon as you start living that way, life can be so much more beautiful.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
PS – I found that ‘Hey You’ quote at the top on Pinterest. Yes, I will tell my daughter that she can say screw it, when she is older, of course. If someone doesn’t like her because she knows her beauty and is happy, then screw it.