A mother’s legacy

It all started with my mom, or maybe even as far back as with her mother.

My mother is a beautiful woman, but for my entire life, she was always so harsh about her appearance. She thought she was too fat, or too grey, or too this or too that. I don’t remember her ever saying she thought she was in any way attractive.

Add to this that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, told me how much I looked like my mother. She loved hearing it, me not so much. Because of the way she felt about herself, I heard, “you are just as unattractive as your mother.” I thought other people had the same image of her as she did.

Let me point out that my mom never told me I wasn’t pretty. She never criticized my appearance, except maybe to comment on my fashion sense. She never deliberately tried to make me feel unattractive. This is all my perceptions as a child that followed me into adulthood.

Now that I have a daughter, one that EVERYONE comments on how much she looks like me, I cringe. I’ve tried not to be as vocal about my discontent with my looks as my mother was, because I desperately don’t want my daughter to feel like I did.

Ironically, I think my daughter is gorgeous. I should be pleased that other people think we look alike, that in some way they think I’m as pretty as she is, but my brain doesn’t work that way. It’s as if I perceive the comparison as some sort of insult to her.

Moms out there, forget what fashion magazines say about female beauty, forget TV and movies, forget music videos. What are WE saying to our daughters and sons EVERY. DAY? What we say about ourselves is far more powerful than any of that superficial stuff.

We shouldn’t transfer our lack of self-image to our children, to future generations. Because of my poor self-esteem, I never want my daughter to question herself when people say she looks like me.

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

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