An Open Letter to My Daughter: Never Let Anyone Take Away Your Beauty

Emma JohnsonEmma Johnson is not a writer who pulls any punches. She's not afraid to share her truth on her blog Wealthy Single Mommy or in her life. It is one of the reasons many are drawn to her blog, where she shares all her thoughts on divorce and single motherhood and on motherhood in general.

In honor of the week leading up to Mother's Day, Johnson shared one of her most poignant posts with The Stir. A Letter to My Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Daughter. It is beautiful, indeed. See below:

Dear Helena,

One day when you were a baby, Aunt Tina and I were smooching all over you. After all, what’s better than kissing a baby – all that smooth, perfect skin, those rolls of fat, all that love that just oozes out of them? Kisses and kisses and kisses. “We’re giving her extra kisses now so she can store them for times in her life when she might not have as many kisses,” Tina said. That was exactly right.

Now you are nearly 5 and you rarely let me kiss you like that any more. But, as you know, I like to tell you every single day that you are beautiful – for much of the same reason. Helena, I hope you read this when you are 14, and 24, and 44 and 84. I need you to know that you are beautiful. Because you are.

I was involved once with a man who let me know that he did not find me beautiful. When we first met he told me how it bothered his ex-wife that in the decades they were together, he never once told her she was beautiful. “She just wasn’t to me,” he said with a shrug. “Sure, she was cute. But not beautiful.”

How strange, I thought. How absolutely cruel.

From then on I was acutely aware of his miserly use of that word. On the one hand, he used it freely when describing past lovers or starlets. Yet every single compliment about my appearance from this man became an insult. There were an abundance of words of admiration, yet every, “You’re pretty today,” and, “You look summery in that dress,” became nasty, digging reminders that I was not, indeed, beautiful.

I see now that he was mistaken.

Helena, here is what I need you to know: To this day I carry a shame with me for two things related to that chapter:

  1. I started to feel ugly. That was my choice. No one allowed this happen but me. But I did.
  2. I stayed.

Helena, in your life you will meet many men, and some of them will not find you pretty at all. And maybe you aren’t to them – and that is totally fine! Who cares if they don’t like your appearance? Such things are but a matter of taste. But let me tell you something – you are so, so beautiful. It is not your big, curious brown eyes, those incredible eyes framed with magnificent brows and impossible lashes. You are not beautiful because of your dashing smile, the poreless olive skin or that elegant, mysterious triangle of small beauty marks that spot your face.

No, you are beautiful because of that thing – that perfect thing inside of you. It is that same thing that is in your brother, and in snowflakes, and when you and your friends laugh on the playground, or when the morning is quiet for a moment and we see the pink and blue clouds above the city. It is inside of me, too. And it is something bigger than you and me. God? Love? The Universe? All of those things – and other things. Things that do not have words.

And when some man lets you know that, no, sorry, you’re really great and all, but you are not beautiful, you need to know that has nothing at all to do with you. Not one thing. It has something to do with that man because he cannot see. And because you are beautiful you will be kind to him – because in all your beauty you will have that kindness and love to share.

And then you will go.

And you will find someone else, or you will be alone. But no matter what, I hope you know always – effortlessly and unconsciously – that you are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

All my beautiful love and more,


Do you tell your daughter she is beautiful?


Image via Emma Johnson


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cecil... cecillesmommy

Every day and I always add that she is also clever, funny, magical, blessed, kind and worthy

nonmember avatar Gretta

I think the key is not to just drill into little girls head that they are beautiful, but also to not waste their time with jerks. That guy was a jerk. You should never have dated him in the first place.

Also girls should know that it's ok to be alone and in fact, quite preferable to being with a jerk.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Wow. Very deep. My husband calls me beautiful almost daily. I cant imagine if someone blantently said i wasnt beautiful as if it was a compliment! What a jerkface. To bad i struggle with self esteem stemming from verbal abuse as a kid but at least i know my husband finds me beautiful even if i dont fully believe it.

MammaSam MammaSam

Every day, several times a day. Beautiful, pretty, cute, adorable, gorgeous, smart, funny, perceptive, creative, fast,strong, amazing, Ect. I let her know when she has done wrong and how I feel about it, but I never fail to let her know I love and appreciate her no matter what. She is only two now, but I don't plan to stop any time soon.

nonmember avatar Meg

I sort of disagree with telling someone they are beautiful every single day. I was raised to believe that compliments are given but should not simply become habit. Words said too often can lose their meaning.

Erica Conley Shannon

At night before bed I have my girls say with me, "I am smart, I am strong, And I am beautiful". Sometimes we talk about what each one of those terms can mean (inner vs outer beauty, strength of spirit, etc...). Sometimes they add their own at the end like, "I am goofy". Sometimes we just leave it as is. Either way, I want them falling asleep each night believing they carry these qualities.

Angie... AngieHayes

You brought tears to my eyes! Thanks a lot!!! Everyone is beautiful and deserves a happy life. Everyone, and everything.

Shannon Nolan

This is what my Grammy told me every day of my life, and I never understood until I had my own daughter.  Now I tell her the same thing

Stephanie Birdsall Lippman

I tell my son every day that he is a beautiful, smart, wonderful, sweet, kind, good, gentle soul. And he is all of those things. I tell him all of these things especially if he is sad or having a hard time. Little girls have many hang ups about their looks yes, but so do little boys. I think that is is just as important for our little ones to hear that they are gentle, wonderful, interesting, IMPORTANT. Too often I see a child repremanded to the point where they feel bad about THEMSELVES rather than their actions or choices.

Saphi... SaphiraJFire

Omg this made me cry so much. Its not just girls who need to hear this boys do to. We all need to know this as truth.

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