When I was a kid I overheard a conversation my younger brother had with my mom…about me. They were in the next room, so I could still hear them. I guess my mom didn’t know that, and she chose to handle the situation the way she did, unfortunately for me. He asked her if she thought I was pretty. I guess he was very little then and didn’t have his opinion about things yet, so he asked a lot to learn about the world. Well, my mom did answer his question, but her answer haunts me even now. She paused for a second or two, I remember that, and then she told him that she thought I was…interesting.
Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Except, “interesting” was the word she always used when there was something wrong with someone, and she wanted to be nice about it. She added that I had other good qualities about me even if beauty wasn’t my strength.
Did it hurt? It did. But that is not the worst part. The worst part is when you realize that you must be really ugly if even your own parent thinks that you are not beautiful. I think I believed what she said for a very long time. I accepted the fact that I was unattractive, and I felt that way about myself well into my adulthood. Hey, I was a kid, I believed what my parents believed, they knew better than me. Only later in life did I finally learn that beauty was subjective, it is in the eyes of the beholder and, most importantly, people see you through your own eyes. If you feel beautiful and are confident about yourself, others believe you and see you the same way. Like I said, took me a long time to realize that and stop seeing myself as “interesting”.
I have a daughter now. I always tell her positive things about herself. Yes, she is beautiful, and smart, and kind, and funny. I want her to develop healthy self-esteem about herself, and know we are proud of her and the things she does. I don’t want her to doubt her self-worth based on us doubting her qualities and abilities. I want her to believe in herself…because she knows for sure that we believe in her.
Photo: M D (Flickr)