From the moment Number 5 was born, people have made comments about how beautiful she is.
I cannot say this about all the other kids.
Well, I can actually say that about Number 3.
People have always commented on his looks also.
But he’s a boy, and that’s a little different.
Number 5 was a beauty from birth.
When she was a couple months old, I remember I went into the paint store to buy some paint, and I had her in the carrier, and the owner of the paint store — an older guy about my dad’s age — looked at her and said,
“That is a beautiful baby. Her face is literally perfect.”
I was a little taken aback. I didn’t know how to even respond to that.
I’m her mom and of course I agree.
I mean, all my kids are beautiful.
But there is something about Number 5 that people are drawn to.
It is not uncommon for people to see her and the first thing they say is,
“You’re so pretty!”
It’s happened at grocery stores and soccer games and baseball games and play dates and pretty much everywhere.
This happened as recently as six days ago at a swim meet.
Number 5 was sitting up in the stands with me and a friend of mine who hadn’t seen her in a while looked at her and said, “You’re so pretty!”
Every girl likes to be told they are pretty and beautiful.
But I worry about Number 5.
Because that is what she is told most often.
People constantly tell her how beautiful she is.
And I worry because I don’t want her to think that her physical appearance is the most important or valuable thing she has to offer the world.
I think most of us (mistakenly) believe that the beautiful people have it made.
That if we were classically beautiful, most of our troubles would disappear.
I know from personal experience that this isn’t true.
Not because I am classically beautiful.
But my husband is.
My husband was a successful model in the 80’s.
He modeled for a whole bunch of designers including Perry Ellis and Christian Dior and he was in hundreds of magazine shoots from GQ to Vogue to Mademoiselle and Cosmo.
People paid my husband lots of money because he was one of the beautiful people.
But being paid for your looks doesn’t fulfill the needs we all have as human beings.
My husband would be the first to tell you this.
So when I saw this post from GoZen: Anxiety Relief for Children
I immediately thought of Number 5. And I shared it on my Facebook page.
And it ruffled a few feathers.
Hopefully that’s a good thing.
Because I think we are well meaning when we say these things, but maybe we are sending a message, especially to girls, about the importance of their looks.
We all want to be told we are beautiful. And I believe it’s important for all of us to not only hear that, but to believe it about ourselves.
But what I want my kids to really truly understand is that they are beautiful for being kind human beings. For being honest and empathetic and thoughtful and ballsy and brave.
I want them to go to bed each night feeling capable and independent and resourceful and accomplished.
And none of those things really come from being classically beautiful.
I want them to know they have so much to offer the world. And that they are worth more than their packaging. That true beauty is reflected in how you carry yourself and it’s recognized in how you treat other people.
Being physically beautiful doesn’t guarantee you — or even help you — develop healthy relationships or strong support systems or lifelong friendships.
And my hope is that when Number 5 is in the prime of her youth, when she is in her twenties and gravity has not yet affected her and her skin is flawless and tight and she is a drop dead gorgeous, head-turning knockout, that on the list of things that make her amazing, she realizes that all those things are at the bottom.
And I hope I have taught her that she’s a strong, smart and hilarious badass, and her heart and her brains and her spirit and her attitude are the things that truly make her — or any of us –beautiful.