3.05.2014

Beauty.

saturated canary digis 
saturated canary digis 
saturated canary digis 
saturated canary digis 
saturated canary digis 
saturated canary digis 

“God does not live in a perpetual state of disappointment over who we are.” 
~Becoming Myself, Stasi Eldredge

So why do we? 
Why do we find so much to be disappointed about in ourselves?

And how can I mother my daughter well to love herself when I have not mastered that well inside my own heart?

Fact:  
We live in a world that bombards us with measuring sticks every day.
I cannot go through a grocery line without filling my eyes with headlines like 

Best and Worst Beach Bodies
You Won't Believe Whose Butt This Is!
Bikini Body After Baby 
How I Lost 30 Pounds Fast

I have to make a concerted effort NOT to let my eyes troll through the photos and headlines.  Because my ass is not going to fall under the Best Beach Body category.  And I had my kids years ago and still have not mastered the Bikini Body After Baby look.  And the diet secrets on how to lose 30 pounds fast?  I have bought those magazines promising diet secrets inside only to ALWAYS be disappointed with a tiny paragraph that tells me I need to inhale syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice for two weeks straight or eat fish and broccoli for every meal.

Most of us fall short to airbrushed photos and diet plans that do not include birthday cakes for your kid and a movie treat surprise on a Friday night.  Photos labeled "plus-sized model" make me want to crumble because that chick's upper thigh is the size of my forearm.  And she is beautiful, but labeled....just so we all know what category she falls into.  I don't know about you, but I don't want my girl learning to label herself. 

This is not an easy thing to navigate. 
And we don't get a manual when our daughters start to take notice of themselves in the mirror.  
And we don't get a memo with the right response when they start saying things like, "my arms look chubby"...or "my hair never looks soft and silky"... 

There is this fine and invisible and tricky line to tread between encouraging healthy habits, being honest, and talking real ... and, the other side of the line-- pushing them into operating under the standards and labels and categories of a world that will always leave them disappointed in themselves.  

Niamh and I have had real conversations.  The ones that drive me to tears and make her angry.  I won't let her take the easy way out- the one where she is not responsible for her health and beauty... where it is easier to make excuses than to be proactive.  I have made mistakes along the way.  Somehow she has adopted an obsession with checking food labels for high fructose corn syrup and equates pepsi's with cancer.  (So I know my own worries and preoccupations travel quite efficiently from my mind to hers, without trying to perpetuate those messages consciously.)  Our kids pick up an amazing amount of info from us...and that can be scary or exciting, depending on how we treat ourselves. 

We run.  There is no excuse for not being a runner if you have no health reasons to prohibit it.  That is just my personal opinion, and I know many will disagree.  But we encourage the kids to run at least every other day.  I do my best not to guilt them into it, because I want it to be something they value rather than loathe.  But they also know that a half mile will only take about 0.4% of their day (I did the math to show them my point a long time ago), and if they cannot spend 0.4% of their day investing into their own health...than they are not choosing healthy things.  

Niamh ran her half mile in 4:12 this week, which is awesome.  I often feel like I am the one being motivated by her now.  We find different workouts to try on the treadmill (it is winter, so that is our only option most days).  She likes doing intervals.  And sometimes she just walks.  But she has learned to carve the time out herself, and I feel like that is a small victory in living healthy.

We have the real, more difficult talks about "chubby arms", finding jeans that fit, and silky hair.  I hand her 2 pound weights...and tell her that jeans need a good booty to fill them out right...and that big, messy, wild hair is just as beautiful (more so in my opinion) than silky hair-commercial hair.  We tell her she is lovely in every way.  I realized (thanks to wisdom-filled husband) that when I make statements like "I am having a fat week" or "I need to lose 20 pounds" that my message is absolutely absorbed into her little heart.  She doesn't see anything wrong with her mama.  But if I constantly do, then she starts to see disappointments in herself.  For NO reason.  That is how girls work.  Beauty matters to us, and we take a lot of cues from the world around us. 

I stopped buying tabloid magazines this year.  I have not even picked one up in the grocery checkout in forever...even just to flip through it.  And I SO BAD wanted to this week.  Kim Kardashian's backside was smack dab on the front and my first thought was let me flip to her photos and take a look...just to give myself a little hope.  I chose to leave the magazine right where it was.  I should not be measuring my flaws by the flaws of someone else.  Just like I should not measure my value/beauty/worth by the photoshopped perfection of someone else.  (side note, big booties rock. I like big butts and I cannot lie.)

Telling our girls they are beautiful is not enough.  Mamas should believe that about themselves, too.  Otherwise, the message will be lost in translation.  We need to communicate honestly with our daughters about insecurities and healthy choices and responsibility.  But we need to offer grace at every turn.  

I want Niamh to see herself as Phil and I see her.  She is breathtaking, perfectly complicated, too funny, beautiful, sparkly, smart, talented, gracious, loving, and filled with a remarkable love for Jesus.  Phil makes it a priority to carve out time just for her- even if it is just a conversation at the kitchen table- so Niamh knows he values her deeply.  If girls receive a lot of messages about beauty from their moms, they recieve those same messages - times a hundredfold- from their dads.  

So we are handling beauty delicately and imperfectly...but trying our best.  Honesty is essential.  We do not want to blur reality for the sake of avoiding tough conversations.  We do not believe in the standards of the world that make beautiful girls seem inadequate or reduce their identity to a mere dress size.  We love how God made us, thick legs and big booties included.  We choose to eat organic, and we like doughnut day at the bakery.  We kiss our beautiful girl and high five her for the 4:12 half-mile just like we kiss and high five her when she says she needs a day off of running.  I kid her that I might cut off her hair at night and steal it.  I smack her on the booty and tease her about how cute she is in jeans.  I lift "weights" with her sometimes and teach her proper form.  

And sometimes I just stare at her pretty face when she is sleeping and kiss her forehead and whisper I love you's in her hair...scared and so humbly thankful that I get the opportunity to be her mama.  The world has no label I would ever want more than that.  

Just to be a good mama.  

PS,  Regan Giangrande You won the custom clock giveaway, babes!!  Wahoo!  Please email me to discuss your design.

23 comments:

  1. This is such a great post I gave up buying magazines ages ago I got Lee to bring me one home and each page had diet and better body stuff on, there was no plus sized models in the whole book, there is so much everywhere no wonder we do not love or like ourselfs, I refuse to but any more magazines, I tell my kiddies each day they are gorgeous they do not believe me but to me they are, hugs sweetie love Pops x x x

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  2. You have said it all, and said it perfectly! And beautifully! And your girl IS beautiful, inside as well as out!! I had a little insight this past week into the beauty of my granddaughter! She will be 6 on St.Patrick's Day and is in kindergarten. She's also a beautiful child, inside and out!!! The kids had a school "dance" , for k-5 and Kaitlyn went. There is a little boy in her class who is disabled, she has kind of taken him under her wing at school, if he falls, she's right there to get a chair so he can get up, she talks to him when no one else will. At the dance, there he was in his wheelchair and she went right up to him and started dancing with him and the wheelchair! She just grabbed it and started twirling around, my daughter in law was so proud of her! And she does it for no other reason than he's her friend! She hung with him for the entire two hours and his mother was so grateful! And my beautiful girl was totally unaware, because she did just what she wanted to. So we stressed how proud we were of her for her kindness as well as how darn cute she looked that night!!! It's sad that at 6, they already start talking about how they look, etc. and I'm glad she can feel good about not only how she looks, but how she acts!!!!
    Lots of hugs,
    Teri

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  3. Oh my days, Krista. Had a BIG conversation about this with my friend yesterday. She, being big and proud to be, me being a skinny bag of bones ("I've seen more fat on a butcher's pencil")! She always thought I was happy and beautiful and confident in my little shell; I am happy; I don't however, consider myself beautiful. And the confidence...forget it! In our own humble home though, I try to BE beautiful for my little girl. We goof around in front of mirrors; we do eachothers make-up in totally EXTREME ways; we wash it all away and look again, and breathe, and cuddle, and that's beautiful! Beauty really IS more than skin deep. It's what's in your heart that counts. And respecting your body, and everybody around you. I believe being unique makes us beautful. All of us.... xxxx

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  4. There are so many ways to stay fit, healthy and love it! Encourage your kids to find one they like and stick with it - and if that's running, that's AWESOME… But some of us legitimately hate running and just feel guilty when people tell us things like "there's no excuse." Yes, there is - it makes us very unhappy. But maybe sports or yoga or horseback riding or dancing doesn't. And so maybe that's the way to go. The best-intended messages can be super counterproductive if they elicit feelings of guilt or obligation, you know?

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    1. I absolutely agree- there are many ways to be fit and healthy and appreciate you bringing that point up. Thank you! We do include other activities like swimming and biking (which they both love to pieces:)...but in the winter, often the treadmill is the easiest and most convenient way to get some exercise and a boost of energy for the day. I would never want them to feel guilty for not being a "runner" although encourage them to default to it when nothing else is viable. Great point, friend <3

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  5. Your posts are always so warm and welcoming it's a pleasure to be part of your blogging world and so true in all that you say x

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  6. As a little postscript to my previous comment....just had a tickle fight with my daughter (I won!) and I asked her "what makes us beautiful?". She tapped her chest, and said, "it's what's in here". Nuff said....I'm one proud Momma! xxxx

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  7. What an amazing, true, and beautiful post Krista! You always get me to stop and think about real life. I treasure your blog posts for that reason. I have a preteen daughter so this post hits close to home. This post is just what I needed this week. You and Niamh are both gorgeous inside and out!! Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us! Big hugs!

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  8. I love all that you have said..so true and so right!!!

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  9. love this. will definitely be sharing. it breaks my heart seeing young children infected with dysmorphia because they are bombarded by those measuring sticks. thanks :)

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  10. I really enjoyed this Post! thanks for sharing.

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  11. I can't even believe my eyes right now! At the end of this amazing post is my name! Krista, thank you so much for the incredible one of a kind prize and for always sharing your heart with your followers! I've no doubt that Niamh is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside- just like her mama! Thank you again, and my email has already been sent! I am simply over the moon!
    {hugs}
    Regan

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  12. Wonderful, wonderful post Krista. I am forwarding it to my DD to encourage her - my DGD is gorgeous, and thankfully her parents think so too, and tell her.
    Blessings
    Maxine

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  13. All girls (and boys) have a beauty all of their own, it's just a shame that the media feels the need to bombard them with images of what some people think of as perfection.....PLEASE !......I'm so glad you and Phil are installing in your little girl that beauty comes from within, it's not what you look like on the outside it's what's on the inside that counts....
    Naimh is Beautiful just like her Momma!

    Hugz fae Kath in Scotland....

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  14. Hi Krista! I started reading this yesterday and had a friend pop in, so finished this morning. Your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. Your whole post is amazing and perfect. We all deal with this and I know I personally struggle every day. I was a size 4 when I met my husband 22 yrs ago at 19. Now I'm a size 12, 40 yrs old, a happy face scar on my abdomen from a cancer scare at 31 and stretch marks from 2 amazing kids. My body has totally changed. There are days I look at myself and I don't like the person I see. I want to change this, change that, I cry and wish I could just change back .. but my husband will stand behind me and say "See that scar? That's proof that you're still here with us, we didn't lose you", "see that stretch mark? we have a beautiful son and daughter because of those ..", "see that fuller body? i happen to love that about you. just sayin" So I realize that I AM beautiful, inside and out and I do my best to portray that to our daughter, because you are so right. What we say, they take to heart. She has heard me say "I wish I could lose 15 lbs" and she's seen me cry. But she always says "Mom, you're beautiful to us!" Ashleigh is a 13 yr old, beautiful young lady. She's about to graduate grade 8 and go into high school, which scares me to death. This means boyfriends, heartbreak, makeup, gossip .. so if we can help her to realize, each and every day, that she is beautiful (without the makeup! LOL!) I hope she'll take that with her. Don't worry about the magazines, don't even look at them and don't worry about what people say. Just be yourself .. beautiful inside and out.

    The photos you have here are stunning and Niamh is a beautiful young lady and you are an amazing mom. I think you should print this post and tuck it away somewhere safe. xo

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  15. Totally beautiful words for your totally beautiful daughter, Jo x

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  16. Sheesh girl you're motivating me to get out and run!!! I honestly just may, and then I'm going to come back here and thank you. I really appreciate your thoughts on this subject, and I especially appreciate your truth speaking to me :) Glad to have found you from Casey's linkup. ~Jenna // A Mama Collective

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  17. Thank you so much for the reminder to not only build up our children, but to continue to be thankful for the beauty God has blessed each of us with. I love the post about the changes our body has gone through which may appear to be "scarred or imperfect", but in fact tell a story of the blessings that come with them such as children or struggles that God has gotten us through along the way.

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  18. Honestly, you guys are awesome parents! I wish more kids could have parents like you :)

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  19. Good grief, how did I miss this post?! Yes, your darling is a treasure.. and a beauty through and through. Navigating a daughter's sense of beauty/worth in a culture soaked in the 'wrong messages' about these topics is a tough one indeed. I'm curious for how future conversations will look with our girls as they get older.
    BUT - the big but (not butt!) here... and the message I want to remind myself of too is this: teaching them their worth will not come from getting them to 'get' loving themselves, it will so beautifully flow from getting them to 'get' how God sees them - sees us.
    This letter to 'an insecure teenager' by Piper is one I keep coming back to... and keep planning to post about - but have a look:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/letter-to-an-incomplete-insecure-teenager
    Bang on!

    Love you lady - warts and all... lol... not that you have any.. but, if you did.. I'd love them too!
    xxoo
    mel
    needle and nest

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  20. Beautiful and very smart post!! Your daughter is very beautiful!

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