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I don’t practice self love…

… so how can I teach it to my children? Our elder has some strategies to help a mom-to-be.

Dear EWC

I’m six months pregnant. I don’t know whether I’ll be having a boy or a girl. I’m worried that I might have a girl because society is harder on females than on males. I wasn’t raised to self-love. Most of my life, I have been told: “Watch your weight.” “Makeup will make you look like a clown.” “Who cares how you dress?” “Going to the salon is a waste of time and money.” When I got into a relationship, I was told, “You don’t need makeup to look beautiful, I fell in love with you as you are,” and I started to believe it until I found out about the affairs. The last one destroyed me because she was fit, knew how to dress, wore makeup, and was ten times prettier than me. Since then anyone who says or posts, “Natural beauty is the best,” I tell them it’s bullshit because life has shown me otherwise. I started to go to the gym to get fit, started to learn how to use makeup and then I got pregnant.

It just hit me. How can I tell my daughter, “You’re beautiful as-is, you don’t need all that stuff,” when I can’t tell that to myself? I can’t even look at myself in the mirror. I tried to tell myself I’m beautiful, and my body and mind just laugh at me and tell me to be realistic.

Purple-Finch replies

Your question is, of course, one we all face. That doesn’t make it any easier. But I do have a few suggestions:

1. Stop watching TV. That sounds impossible, but you’ll notice that everyone on TV has a trim body and professional make-up. TV is a visual thing, and so of course everyone has paid a great deal of attention to how they look. And so those of us who watch a lot of TV tend to think that the entire world (except ourselves of course) is gorgeous.

I found that when I stopped watching TV, the entire world became more beautiful. The standard shifts to something far more realistic. You begin to see all kinds of beauty — not just that horrible Barbie single-standard type.

2. Stop buying women’s and celebrity magazines. Like TV, they are there to belittle us real people and get us to spend money on whatever is the latest craze to get pretty quick. Just drop it. It is toxic for your mind. We all of us like to read “trash” from time to time. Find some other kind of “trash.”

3. In the same way, reduce the amount of time you spend on social media. People don’t post the bad pictures of themselves, nor do they trumpet their disappointments. If you are forever on Facebook, etc., you will begin to think that everyone in the world (except you) is having a terrific, photogenic time. They are not.

4. Focus on being healthy. Always-always-always — healthy, rather than beautiful. Then you will find that you are looking for self-improvement where you are the recipient of whatever beneficial steps you take — not someone who is watching from the sidelines. When you seek beauty, you are looking to provide something for someone else. There is little to nothing in it for you, whether it’s a starvation diet or 5″ heels or a tight skirt or a boob lift. Don’t think of yourself as a toy for someone else’s “consumption.” You are far more important than that. So go for what’s healthy: strength, endurance, flexibility, energy. That, right now, is a terrific gift you can give your daughter. Good health is something that serves you both, regardless of your age or hers.

4. So go to the gym or take a walk or join a class — but not to be the most beautiful in the room or out in the world. Beauty is not your goal; health is your goal. And those of us who are not naturally beautiful are stronger for getting ourselves to that place. Gorgeous people are used to being gorgeous; they never develop the self-esteem we ordinary folk develop because they have never doubted themselves. Like health, courage is a much more valuable goal.

5. Expect to have ups and downs. Your self-esteem may be terrific one day and then ker-plop — there it goes. Never assume that, “Now I’ve got it and life will be different from here to forever.” Nothing stays the same. Our egos get pounded or ambushed every day. It is not a failure on our part. There is a saying: Some days we eat the bear and some days the bear eats us. We all have days when the bear “eats us.” That’s just how it is for our species. If you know that (and it does take a very long time to learn), then you can tell yourself: OK — so today I feel like crap but tomorrow I will feel something different. (Know what? You might feel completely different in only two hours. You just never know.)

6. Once you are pretty comfortable with what I have suggested, pass my ideas to your daughter. You will be a strong mother and you will make her into a strong young lady.

I wish you well. You take care now.

Letter #: 456368
Category: Self-Improvement

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