The Danger in Defining One's Worth Based on Beauty...

Sheri Reed
2

I recently got wowed by this lovely journal post by CafeMom PB_J, in which she shares her personal journey toward learning to appreciate the value of true beauty — inside and out.

She was happy to let me share it here with you.

For as long as I can remember, I was always told how "pretty" I was. I can actually remember my grandmother discussing with my mom (right in front of me) how I was the pretty granddaughter, and my cousin "D" was the smart one. I remember thinking, "Am I not smart?" My childhood dream was to be a lawyer...and I still recall how my parents would chirp in that all I would have to do was flirt with the judge and flash my smile and I would win any case. I remember thinking, "I couldn't win by being a good lawyer?"

I started doing pageants when I was 7....and no, my mother didn't pressure me to do them. It was 100% my decision, and my mother finally gave in after months of begging and pleading. I continued competing for the next 10 years....making it as far as the Miss Teen USA pageant.

The problem with this sort of behavior is that I began (at a very young age) to define myself based on my "beauty." Now you might think that this would have given me confidence...but it actually was quite opposite. I really believed that if I didn't have my looks, I didn't have anything. Nobody ever told me that I was smart...even though I was. Nobody ever told me I was funny....even though I was. Nobody ever told me I was a hard-worker....even though I was. It was like everything I was came from my exterior. 

In my opinion, if I gained weight or wore a sloppy ponytail or no make-up, nobody would want to be friends with me. Now, of course, this wasn't true...my friends loved me because I was outgoing and friendly...not because of how I looked. But, again, I defined my life by my looks...so it took me years to realize that. It wasn't until I went to college that it hit me, "Hey, I AM smart, and there is this whole person inside of me that has nothing to do with being pretty"

I look at my daughter, and as beautiful as she is, I put more stress on how she's smart, talented, funny, creative, kind, courageous and loyal. I don't want her growing up thinking that she is nothing more then a pretty face. I want her to feel just as content and confident in her sweats and sneakers as she does in her prom dress. I want her to understand that TRUE beauty comes from within...from how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. I want her to know that we don't measure our success or happiness by how many boys tell us we are "hot." I want my daughter to know that she can do ANYTHING she wants...and she can achieve ANY goal she sets for herself through dedication and hard work...not through flirting or flashing her smile.

I want more for my daughter.

Motherhood has changed me in ways more profound then I can fully comprehend. I look at myself in the mirror and for the first time in my life, I see true beauty. When I look at my stomach, instead of thinking, "Eww, look at those stretch marks and loose skin," I think, "Wow, I created life...amazing life." When I look at my breasts, instead of thinking, "Eww, how saggy and sad," I think, "Wow, I nourished and sustained life!" And perhaps most significant....despite my tired eyes and messy hair, my two-year old son looked at me this morning and said "pretty mommy." This meant so much because it wasn't based on my old notion of "pretty," it was based on love and a child's view of internal beauty. 

Yes, I am pretty, it's just not the same way I used to view it. 

About PB_J:

PB_J is a happily married 29-year old with two amazing children, 3-year old Payton and 2-year old Brayden. She earned her bachelor's degree in Business Management from Connecticut State University in 2002. She is currently a SAHM and enjoying every moment that motherhood has come to offer. She enjoys photography, scrapbooking, reading, and writing poetry.

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