Being a mommy has been my most rewarding role. In fact, I can recall the first day I laid eyes on my little beauty. She was so full of life and had these bright brown eyes that pierced my soul when I stared into them. From that day forward, I made a vow to protect her, love her and be her living example. I didn't want to just tell her about the world, but show her the world. My life had to be a reflection of the things that were best for her, and as her mommy, I was on a mission to do just that. To me, this would mean making a conscious effort to show her true beauty comes from a multitude of directions.
As she grew, we had mommy-daughter days full of volunteering at a local shelter, donating gently used clothing and household items, and spending quality time with one another during bi-weekly mani-pedi's—we dubbed these Princess and Mommy Days. She loves it when we go for ice cream and people watch. We play a game where she has to tell me one thing she likes about every person we see—for her, often it's their hair and shoes because she's a fashion queen in the making. But my goal with this game is to show her that each person has something beautiful to offer the world, whether it's their ability to hold a door for a stranger, offer a smile or exercise proper manners. For me, it's less about aesthetics and more about their inner beauty. It's important to me to teach her that.
Beauty is a feeling, an energy, if you will. I often talk to her about the positive experience our energy adds to a person's day. She is better able to grasp this concept by seeing mommy interact with others. I make it a practice to genuinely compliment others in her presence and let her see how good it makes them feel.
My advice to fellow moms is to find practical ways to instill beauty in your daughters through philanthropy, leading by example, and incorporating daily affirmations and saying them together. Have candid conversations surrounding beauty, and love on them like only mom can. Help them to always live with a heart that practices the kindness they seek. We can't allow mainstream media to affirm our daughters' beauty, self-esteem and self-worth; we should take time to celebrate all aspects of their beauty
This is one reason I love the "My Black is Beautiful" (MBIB) program and its initiative to change the beauty conversation by addressing the societal and cultural issues associated with beauty and self-esteem. MBIB recently launched the "All Together Beautiful" challenge, which is a way we can "pay it forward" to other amazing black women and girls and create a sense of sisterhood. To get involved, you simply record and share a video on social media that celebrates a woman who is "All Together Beautiful," using the hashtags #MBIB and #AllTogetherBeautiful. Then, challenge another woman to do the same for someone else. By creating a community of strong and beautiful women, together, we can redefine the definition of beauty.
So, try this affirmation: "I am a bold, unapologetic beauty who will change the world one smile at a time." My daughter loves when we say this together— it's the way we command our day. But above all, as a mother, I believe it is my duty and purpose to show my daughter how she is, and how black women collectively, are "All Together Beautiful."
Ebony Combs is an ambassador for Proctor & Gamble's "My Black is Beautiful" campaign.