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To my two daughters:

You are beautiful. I am telling you this because, sadly, one day someone might tell you otherwise—or worse, you might not see the beauty in yourself. I know, you’re probably thinking, “You have to say I’m beautiful, you’re my mother.” True… But I judge beauty not by what I see, but by how it makes me feel. And both of you, my beautiful daughters, bring me pure joy.

Here is a lesson that I hope you will learn sooner than it took me to learn: You will see what is supposed to be the definition of beauty in magazines, on TV shows and in movies. Some of these people, the actors and models, are nice to look at, but they are not necessarily what is beautiful. That’s because many of these pictures are not actually real. There are magicians behind the scenes who change the appearance of models or actors—they make them skinnier, change the length of their hair, or even alter their faces. But in the world that we, as well as millions of other women (and men too, we shouldn’t forget about the men) live in, is the real world. A world where our skin breaks out or we grow hair in weird places (where there is no real need for hair) or have gross eye boogers. Compared to those we see in advertisements, we think we must look horrible. But that’s how everyone looks in the real world. Sneaky, isn’t it?

There is also a common myth (especially for us ladies) that in order for us to really be beautiful, our bodies must look a certain way—meaning we must be really skinny. I have no idea why. I was once caught up with my body. I wished that I was thinner, that my hair was straight, that my eyes were perfect so I wouldn’t need glasses and that my teeth were straight so I wouldn’t need braces. I wished I looked like the girls in magazines. Even after having both of you and knowing how growing another human is such a blessing and miracle, I still played the ‘I wish’ game— I wished I didn’t have that little extra around my tummy, or that my boobs would stay up (where they were supposed to).

But then I realized every part of me, whether I liked it or not, was me. What I looked like didn’t make me love others more. Being skinny wouldn’t make me funnier. Having perky boobs wouldn’t make me smarter. Having fewer moles, perfect hair and a creamy complexion wouldn’t make my writing better. I wasn’t loved any less because I had some stretch marks. The kind of person I am, how I treat others and the way I view the world is the way that I want to be judged by others. When I started to understand that lesson of what beauty within actually means, it made me feel more beautiful and proud than I have ever felt about myself.

Your body was made inside of my body. That in itself is beautiful. You are made up of billions of cells which allow you to breathe, dance, run, jump—to live. That’s beautiful. One day you will be able to make a body inside of you, too. That’s beautiful. Please don’t measure beauty or you’re worthiness based on what you look like. Instead, base it on what you can do. Your body is a machine, created to work. So make it work.

Your body is beautiful. Say it with me, ‘My body is beautiful.’ Stop rolling your eyes and scream it out loud! ‘My body is mine and it is beautiful!’ Understand this: All bodies are beautiful. Skinny ones, ones that are shaped like fruit, ones that have dimples, ones that are hard and others that are soft. If there is one box called beautiful, then all body shapes fit into it.

I have learned that the most beautiful people are always the nicest people. It doesn’t matter what someone looks like: If they are kind to you, if they make you laugh and feel good about yourself, then they are beautiful. I have met many people that were easy on the eyes, but when I got to know them better and saw how they treated others unkindly, it was like a different kind of magic trick – they suddenly became very ugly. And no amount of makeup or Photoshop would make them beautiful again.

One day you will realize that it really is what’s on the inside, in our minds and hearts, that really matters. You are beautiful and you will always be beautiful to me, no matter what you look like, because both of you are truly amazing on the inside.



Carolyn Allder is a writer and mom of two beautiful girls. She lives in Minden, Ont.