When I first saw the latest Facebook challenge geared towards women, I was In. For simplicity’s sake I will call it the beautiful challenge. Although the wording seems to be changing slightly as the challenge spreads, the essence is, post 5 beautiful pictures of yourself and then tag some friends challenging them to do likewise. I wasn’t tagged in the first post I saw, so I “patiently” waited for SOMEONE to tag me.
Not because I am the selfie queen and not because I think I am beautiful. In fact, 20 years ago I could have come up with maybe one or two pictures in which I was willing to say I was “pretty.” I have spent most of my life hating the way that thing looked that stared back at me from the mirror. But over the past few years I have come to accept, and even embrace that light-skinned girl with decidedly non-Caucasian features (I privately think of my looks as somewhat exotic); I seem to be photogenic also so I have a couple of pictures of myself in which I look like a genuinely great gal and yes, even beautiful.
And I really liked the idea that I could say, Hey look at me. I can be GORGEOUS too.
When I told my mother about this challenge, she immediately said that she wouldn’t be able to do it, that even when she was younger she didn’t think she was beautiful in any pictures. I wanted to argue with her, but as my mother is 74 and has talked about her “plain” looks her entire life, I just tried to explain to her how it came to pass that I could. I don’t know if she was REALLY listening or still thinking about how “not beautiful” she considers herself because she didn’t respond.
I’ve read an article encouraging women to not disparage their weight in front of their girl children. After hearing my 10-year old TINY niece complain about being “fat” I realized I needed to watch the way I talked about MY weight (even though I was going through a freak-out period over having gained 35 lbs. in 4 years).
But I need to do better than that. My niece doesn’t need to hear me talk about my freakish looks (yes, as a teenager I really did feel that I looked like a freak); she needs to see me enjoying inhabiting myself. She needs to know that I KNOW that I AM “good enough” and that I feel worthy of love and respect and adoration so that she will feel that way, too.