When I was growing up, any and all of my insecurities came from what I thought I wanted to look like but did not look like. My mom was the most encouraging woman I could have asked for and always told me how beautiful she thought I was. But it took a really long time for me to see that for myself. Especially in my pre-teen and teen years, I obsessed over beauty rituals and went through phases of trying to find the perfect products that would make me look just right or wear an obscene amount of concealer to cover up what I thought my imperfections were.
When I was a child and my mom told me I was beautiful, I thought that she was just telling me that because she was…you know, my mom—and that’s the kind of stuff moms tell you (like when they tell you that you can sing but you really can’t). But what I realized now is that she really believed I was beautiful. And she wanted me to believe it, too.
Now in my mid-30’s, it’s taken me a while to really be comfortable in my skin. I’m not 100% there yet, but I'm the most comfortable I’ve ever been. As a mother of two girls, I think about constantly how I’ll convey the idea of beauty to them and how I’ll make sure they feel beautiful no matter what they actually look like. Here are a few things I think I’ll tell them…
-Beauty is relative. It’s not about looking like a celebrity, a model, or the prettiest girl down the block. It’s about being funny, charming, smart, talented (or whatever strengths you have)—and owning it.
-Wash your face every day. Or don’t. There are no set rules on how your beauty routine should go. It just has to make sense to you.
-Sometimes we just want to fit in, and we want to be normal. But please strive to be more than just normal.
-Treat yourself well and you’ll look and feel well.
-Expensive things don’t make you more beautiful. (I never splurged on fancy products and spent the last 25 years of my life washing my face every day with a Dove Beauty Bar.)
-You will go through phases of wanting to look like someone else, until you’ll finally realize that looking like yourself actually is the coolest thing. Because no one else looks like YOU.
Just like lots of habits, beauty habits and advice are often passed down from generation to generation. In fact, a recent Dove survey revealed that most women trust the women in their lives more than celebrities for beauty tips and advice. And I hope every generation just gets stronger, more accepting of themselves, and more confident in their own beauty—like this family featured in the Dove Beauty Stories: Four Generations film.
What's something that you've been taught about beauty that you'd pass onto your kids?
P.S. If you like hearing and sharing your idea of beauty, you can share your #BeautyStory and celebrate the real women who inspired it.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Dove—a brand I have been using as long as I can remember. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and original content like this for Oh Joy.
Great advice for the girls! Beauty indeed is relative and inner beauty is much more important that outer!
This is so important, especially for girls. I have two and the older one almost a teen….well…she sure thinks she is one already…
We talk about this all the time and it is such an important message to bring through to them. Not stressing over how you think you have to look like… I can really relate. Such a nice post! Thanks!
Thank you. Beauty is truly relative and soul deep, but it’s hard to see that at times because society marvels at the outward appearance. As a pimply-faced teen who was always a minority in school, my differences stood out far more than the average girl and some of my peers made sure I knew about it. I wish I had the self-confidence back then that I have now. But I’m thankful I have it now and hope to share it with my children.
I always find discussions like this so interesting, primarily in that it’s important to realize that someone, like you, who I see as beautiful, also deals with insecurity. I also believe it’s important that, as a society, we realize that it’s okay to not be beautiful in a traditional sense. Just like we’re not all athletic, we’re not all models, and that’s okay. Each of us has strengths and we need to focus on those.
I have a different approach to helping my daughter understand beauty. I cringe when people tell her (or any little girl) she’s beautiful just upon looking at her. I think it’s very disempowering. Nobody but nobody says that to a 7 year old boy. I’ve taught my daughter that beauty in a person is defined by two things: physical and emotional strength and; a kind heart that shines out through your eyes and smile. When people tell her she’s beautiful she assumes that’s what they are complementing her for. My daughter is only 7, so I have no idea if this is a good tactic long term. I know teenage-hood will challenge this mightily. But never once have I yet heard her pine for a different body, a different colour hair or eyes, etc. Fingers crossed this trend can be sustained.
This post made me realize that my mother never told me I was pretty. Or at least, not without qualifying that I’d be pretty if only I lost a little (a lot of) weight. Bloop.
I am not good looking and I am happy because that’s the way I am. Beauty is skin deep and you must feel beautiful to actually look beautiful. Please tell your daughters they are beautiful not not obsess over physical beauty.
You know, I read an article called “How to Talk to Little Girls” by Lisa Bloom awhile ago and it really resonated with me. Basically, whenever someone sees a little girl, they comment on what she looks like. You’re conditioned from a young age to think that being “beautiful” – in any form – is your life goal. This article was about commenting on anything OTHER than that. I wish people had done that with me growing up!
I’ve read other things emphasizing that complimenting kids on **how** they do something (effort) is better than just “you’re so smart/pretty/etc”. It makes them more resilient adults.
Brene Brown also has some great thoughts on beauty in “Daring Greatly”! Highly recommend.
Exactly right – our society’s passion for delivering the compliment “beautiful” to girls is the very worst.
Good timing. I have a 5 month old son, and I think a lot about how desperately I want him to grow up to be a good man. His father is the best man I know (that’s why I married him), and I just want the same for my little guy. And part of that is who he’ll fall in love with. It’s amazing to be to see my son look at my face and seriously take it in and grin. The freckles and wrinkles, my curly hair and green eyes, and to know that my face is shaping his idea of beauty. And even if he marries a leggy blue eyed blonde straight off the pages of a fashion mag, I think he’ll always have an appreciation for something a little more real.
That’s a great point. I think for me, “beautiful” isn’t meant to be a superficial description can describe things other than the way someone looks. To me, it’s a more empowering than a word like “pretty” or “cute” as for me it encompasses so much more. But I understand how it does have that connotation and maybe it’s also a matter of changing what “beautiful” means to people.
Yes, I love that. When I talk to Ruby about what she’s good at…lately, she’s been saying “I am very smart” and “I am good at art projects” and hearing that makes me so happy because she is acknowledging the talents that she’s starting to develop.
When I would get upset that I didn’t really look like anyone in our family (my sister looked a lot like my mom when she was younger, and my brother looks just like my dad), my mom would always tell me “you look like you”. I’m so glad that I have a mom who helped me to realize that I didn’t have to be like anyone else. I still struggle with comparison, but I always have her voice in the back of my mind, reminding me that it’s okay to be me.
But it’s so normal for a woman to trust another woman she knows personally instead of celebrities. It’s real life versus willing to look like a celeb. And yes, beauty comes from the way you live, behave and then look.
I loved this post because self esteem and self confidence is something so lacking in my life. However, I must say I was so sad to continue reading and realise it was a sponsored post. I love to use dove products, but I can’t help but feel that this post, whilst being sponsored by dove, completely devalues the message you are portraying.
I fully understand that sponsors are what make this blog economically viable for your business. I just felt saddened by this one.
I’m sorry to be negative.
I’m sorry to hear you feel that way and completely respect your opinion. Yes, you are right that sponsors make it possible for me to run this site. I turn down 90% of the emails that we get for sponsored partnerships and say yes to a select few. Not all brands make it their mission to make women feel better about themselves. It’s not about a product, it’s about a mission and a message. I am not sure if you’ve seen this video but it’s pieces like this that make me appreciate and respect a brand that is trying to change the way in which women view themselves and therefore what made me feel strongly about creating a post like this:
Great post! I often think about this in relation to my baby boy as I am fascinated as to what boys think of themselves now that I am a mommy of one. What I have learned is that boys, too, have body image issues. I want my boy to learn to not care so much about the external because it fades and really is no reflection of who you are internally. I also plan to teach him to cherish the many shapes and sizes of female beauty. I’m trying to mold him to be the best husband to one lucky lady one day!
I love that! Thank you for sharing 😉
Thank you Katrin! I never thought about it as much as I do now that I have two girls to raise and to mold into women who I want to respect and value themselves 😉
Thanks for sharing, Cindy. I had terrible self-esteem in middle school, too, and I think we all go through it especially during those years when puberty kicks in and our faces and bodies are changing/growing. Awkward is the best term to describe it and I am so glad to be past that stage too!
Thanks Erin! I think that’s something that took me a long time to figure out but the women I admire the most are the ones who are proud of who they are, who know their strengths, and aren’t afraid to be who just who they are.
I agree. To me being beautiful encompasses so much more than just what you see on the outside!
Yes, I truly love dove! Their mission is awesome and honest. One of the only company’s out there turning the tables.
My mom always told be not to care about what others think, I love that advice and still hold true to it. I intend on sharing this with my child.
It can be hard when your a teenager and your friends/boyfriends are your world and all you want to do is impress and please. But my mom insisted that one of the most important things in life is being true.
I too have a little boy and am a mother to one and share your thoughts. I don’t want him to getting stuck on the idea that a lady should like Plan A or B only, it’s unrealistic and unfair for everyone involved.
That is a real good piece of advice. Beauty is always an opinion and not a fact and we all must learn to get comfortable with our own skins. Great post Joy.
This is a beautiful post, Joy. It took me going through pregnancy and giving birth to a beautiful baby girl to be finally completely comfortable in my own skin. I wish it had not taken me so long — 34 years. I hope to tell my daughter that she is beautiful because there is only one of her.
Happy Mother’s Day, Joy!
I was the same way…I accepted myself and my body way more after having a baby. My not-so-flat stomach and stretch marks are things that I would have previously obsessed over are now beautiful signs of the life I brought into this world.
Happy Mother’s Day to you!
Thank you for your reply, Joy, understood. I will take a look at the video!
Sometimes I find it hard to get my head around the whole sponsorship side of things.
Hope you have a great weekend!
I have to agree with Anna on this one. What began as an endearing post quickly turned into a post about money. I clearly remember you posting your beauty routine here:
And Dove soap is not listed as your daily face wash. I think it’s great that you want to teach your kids about beauty and you support the Dove campaigns but also be honest with your readers.
That is a beautiful picture of you and your girls! I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day! My daughter is 8 and more than anything I hope she will always be comfortable in her own skin and just happy. Not looking forward to the teen years!! 🙂
Thanks for your note. I can respect your opinion and Im sorry to hear you feel that way about the post. However, what I must clarify is that I am ALWAYS completely honest with my readers. I would never say I have been using a product for 25 years if it werent true. That was not something I was paid to say it just is the honest truth. And youre right that it was not listed in that past post because I simply forgot. I use a bar of Dove soap as my body soap in which I use it to wash my face as well when I shower every night. That routine listed was more about my daily routine when I wake up (which doesnt usually include a shower since I shower at night). Therefore, I didnt think to put in the soap since its more of a nighttime thing. Thats probably way more info than you needed to know but to had clarify after being accused of being dishonest. I dont mind if you dont like sponsored posts but I am never dishonest with my readers.
What a terrific, relevant message for today, Joy! I love your blog. This topic really resonates with me as a mother of a 6 year old daughter, and also as a manager at a Sephora store for the past 9 years. Every day, we celebrate women and their unique beauty. We try to recognize and further enhance their gorgeous and special features. It is sad but true that many women do not feel good about themselves and I wonder….do they have someone telling them they are beautiful? Is it the media? It saddens me and I think about my young daughter and her perceptions. I always tell her that beauty comes from the inside out. It is wonderful to enhance with makeup, clothes, etc., ( if that is what you want to do), but kindness is really what makes a person beautiful 🙂
I don’t have a problem with sponsored posts (I feel like you do a good job of collaborating with brands with your work) but with this post when I read “Dove” I immediately knew it was sponsored. It just didn’t sit well with me because of the message you are trying to send to your daughters and you haven’t mentioned Dove in your beauty routine till now. So it’s not hard for a daily reader for the past 8 years to feel like this was dishonest. Glad that it was clarified!
Thank you Nicole!
I’m following your lead, can’t wait to educate my little one about the real world someday.