Monday, April 24, 2017

Teaching Honest Beauty

I fell asleep last night in my Sunday-best hair and make-up.

Oh, c'mon, like you're so perfect you never wake up with crusted on mascara? Psh...

Pics or it didn't happen, you say? 

Well, here ya go.

Caution: Eyes are more red and puffy than they may appear.
Because my eyes are delicate flowers.
We scare because we care. 

Ooops, I meant I share because I care.

I care about an honest look at beauty.

I do not see a pushing-40 woman with blotchy skin, fine lines, bags under her eyes, etc. 

Ok, well I do have eyes in my head, so yes, I see her.

Let's try that again: while my eyes may see a pushing-40 woman with blotchy skin, fine lines, bags under her eyes, etc., my heart sees a tired mama hen rising before the shine in order to get her little chickies off to school at an ungodly hour with full and warm bellies, lunches for later, and encouragement to start their days.

That's beauty.

And while having an honest perspective about beauty is powerful for women, it is absolutely critical for children to hear these messages.

I spent my late teens and early adulthood imprisoned to impossible ideals of physical beauty; it made for a Heather filled with anger, bitterness, insecurity, and self-loathing. I was UGLY and SICK inside.

I was just barely on the right side of recovery from my bulimia when I found myself holding a peed-on pregnancy test up to a flickering light in a dim university bathroom, squinting to see if that ghost of a second line was really, actually there.

It was.

Time to put all the love thyself principles I'd learned in therapy to practice as my body, which I still perceived as un-beautiful and big, would become much larger and yet paradoxically more beautiful than it had ever been before.

Over the course of that pregnancy, I had a furious wrestling match with myself about what I knew and didn't know about how and what I wanted to teach this child, and later, my other children, about life.

I knew that if it was a girl, I wanted her to feel comfortable in her skin no matter what life threw at her - if she got my bad teeth, or was chubby as a kid as I had been, as she aged and her body shifted on her - that she was and would be beautiful her entire life.

Let it be known that now, I wish this for all children, regardless of gender/sex because I know that boys (men), intersex, and trans people experience body dysmorphia as well.

I knew that girl or boy, I wanted my child(ren) to know that true and honest beauty is a psycho-spiritual trait, not a fortunate combination of DNA that conformed to societal ideals, which are impossible to actually achieve without Photoshop, at that.

Nearly 17 years from that moment I discovered my impending motherhood, I have a beautiful, 16 years wise daughter, one son on the verge of highschool, and another son aged 8 (tomorrow!).

At Casa de la Esperanza, appreciating honest beauty in the midst of service

By the grace of God, they get honest beauty.

Thank you, Jesus.

My sons and husband surprise me regularly with sincere proclamations that I'm pretty, often when I least expect it. 

And then there is my comment, all shallow and worried about my looks. #NotPerfect

Because they see beyond the surface.

I told my daughter that I wanted to get some of her perspective to include in this series of posts, and her response was, "But I don't have any problems with body image."

I silently and invisibly wept as I shot a quick heavenward glance and my heart whispered to Jesus, "Did you hear that, God? You helped me do this. Thank you." 

Because I know that I've been imperfect in my teaching, but He has answered my fervent prayers.

"I know, sweetheart, and that is why I need your thoughts - because we're exploring how I modeled and/or taught that to you."

"Oh, right. Ok, cool. Bye, Mom."

And out walked two of the most beautiful people in my life as they began their day.

Stay tuned for further discussion on honest beauty.

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