Some days, I look at my girls and am blown away by their beauty. They take my breath away. They do. Mari, my 12-year-old, is her daddy’s complexion—a light mahogany with red undertones—with these amazing eyes that are almost devoid of eyelids. Like she’s got some Chinese in her. And a nose that looks like it was carved for the Sphinx. Her freckles make me giggle. I trace them with my fingers—count them out one by one when she honors me with the pleasure of holding her in my arms.
My Lila is equally amazing—almond eyes, big and brown and mesmerizing, set perfectly in the most beautiful chocolate brown I ever did see. She’s got a nose like mine—cute and buttony—and a mischievous smile that betrays her maniacal giggles. Her hair is a jumble of thick, curly, kinky, shiny curls that would be intimidating if I didn’t get in so much practice whipping up cornrows and twists on my dolls’ heads when I was little. When we’re standing in the mirror, Lila looks like my carbon copy. A veritable Mini-me.
I tell them they are beautiful often. Because they are. Because nobody told me these things when I was little. Because I spent what seemed like a lifetime thinking that this dark skin and this kinky hair and these round hips and these Negroid features meant that I needed to depend on my brain, since nobody thought what I had was cute. It was a guy in college who told me otherwise. Who literally held a mirror to my face and demanded I look into it and see what he saw: That I was/am, indeed, beautiful.
I don’t want my girls to live that. To have to have some guy hold a mirror up to their face and demand them to see what the rest of us see. I don’t want them spending a lifetime being uncomfortable in their skin and their hair and their noses and those thick lips. I don’t want them thinking that they have to go above and beyond to get some little boy’s attention because he wouldn’t notice them or care if they didn’t dress provocatively or act inappropriately or put out.
And so, at the risk of creating monsters, I say it loud—proud—to each of them: “My God, you’re such a pretty girl.”
Because if their mommy won’t, who will?
The picture accompanying this post is of my Mari—a gorgeous self-portrait she took with her iTouch the other day. This post was inspired not by the photo, but the happiness she displayed when she showed it to me. Girlfriend knew she looked good. And she wasn’t ashamed of saying it out loud, or marveling at how lovely she looked in the picture she captured. She wasn’t bragging. She was just saying.
Which I happen to think is pretty cool.