I watch my daughter, Little CEO, with utter fascination and awe.
Most of the time, she is so innately herself that she doesn’t know how to be anything else.
She doesn’t know that stripes and plaids can look awful together.
She doesn’t care that smoothly brushed hair looks better than the matted mess that is her mane.
She takes hundreds of pictures herself using her iPad. They’re never posed, she never tries to look “good.” She makes silly, crazy, horrific, weird faces and snaps the picture.
In many of her home movies, she channels Quasimodo with her expressions and posture, all the while squealing and laughing and not being afraid.
Over the last few years, these blotchy white spots have appeared on her torso and stretch down to her upper leg. When she wears a swimsuit or top where her side is exposed, they are obvious.
Our former pediatrician said to just put lotion on them. They haven’t gone away, and her new pediatrician thinks it might be a little fungal infection, easily treated with Lotrimin.
The other night, I walked into her room to put the Lotrimin on her skin.
“Sweetie, let me put this cream on your spots so they go away.”
“Mom, if the spots don’t hurt me, why do we need to put cream on them? They’re not doing anything bad.”
“I know honey, but…”
I stopped here to consider what my response should be. I didn’t want to say “people might tease you” or “so your skin looks better,” even though those are, in part, my motivations for treating her.
“Even if it doesn’t hurt you, it’s a medical condition and we need to just take care of it so it doesn’t get worse.”
That was the best I could come up with.
“But Mom, I kind of like my spots. They’re part of what make me unique.”
I studied her, this girl who is so shy at some things and yet brazen and bold and absolutely embracing of her true self in most ways. You rock, little girl. Where did you get this amazing attitude?
“Little CEO, I can guarantee this. Even if your spots go away, there are a million other things that make you incredibly unique.”
She shrugged her shoulders and readied herself for bed.
I sat for a moment, reflecting on whether or not I was ever that accepting of myself – whether I’ve ever lived so liberated, so carefree, so blissfully unaware of What Other People Think.
I envy her freedom, and wonder what its lifespan is. She is 8. When will she start to put on a heavy coat of insecurity? When will she care that her navy striped top looks horrendous with a tropical flowered skirt and a reindeer antler headband? When will she start hiding from the camera, ducking away instead of running to it?
When will she stop thinking she is beautiful?
Do you remember the day it happened to you: the day you stopped thinking you are beautiful? The day self-doubt eclipsed self-acceptance?
I’ll never forget the day; the day a high school friend told me my nose was big. It was a revelation, a shock, THE moment that I never looked at my appearance in quite the same way.
Since then, I’ve allowed nothing short of a torrential storm of loathing to rain down on me. Even when my hair is done or I’m in top shape or my skin is zit-free, it never stops pouring.
I saw this video just the other day on YouTube. It’s Dove Camera Shy: their new follow up video to the Real Beauty Sketches campaign. And while I’m still not sure what side of the fence I fall on with the Beauty Sketches campaign, I did love this video, and the question it asks:
When did you stop thinking YOU are beautiful?
I hope our daughters never do.
Note: this post is not sponsored.