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Moms, you're beautiful -- make sure your kids hear you say it

Nov. 20, 2012 at 1:01 PM ET

Amanda King /
Amanda King with her daughter

Though we may have days when we look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “not too bad,” most days, most of us will instead focus on some small flaw or shortcoming in our appearance. While we might groan, “Uggh, I look fat in this,” we will rarely exclaim, “I am beautiful.” But, now that we’re moms with little ears listening to our every utterance, maybe it’s time for that to change.

Determined not to let her own hang-ups about her appearance trickle down to her young daughters, one mom has made an effort to say those three little words out loud more often. Though saying “I am beautiful” can be tough to do, Amanda King believed it was important for her daughters to hear her say it. “Before, when they told me I was beautiful, I’d say, ‘No, I’m not,’” King told TODAY Moms. “I could see the confusion in their eyes.” For months now, she has been making an effort to speak better of herself in front of her girls, to let them see her accept and appreciate her own appearance and she notes that they’re happy when she reacts positively to her image in the mirror.

“I try to be really mindful with the way I’m teaching my girls about beauty and what’s important,” King told TODAY Moms. “But, while I was encouraging them to find beauty in different places, different races and shapes, etc., I was still putting myself down in front of them.”

Writing first on her blog, Last Mom on Earth, King posted:

“I don't want my girls to be children who are perfect and then, when they start to feel like women, they remember how I thought of myself as ugly and so they will be ugly too.  They will get older and their breasts will lose their shape and they will hate their bodies, because that's what women do.  That's what mommy did.  I want them to become women who remember me modeling impossible beauty.  Modeling beauty in the face of a mean world, a scary world, a world where we don't know what to make of ourselves.”

“The people we see as the most beautiful aren’t the people in magazines, they’re the people we love,” King told TODAY Moms. And who does a young child love more than her mother? Who could be more beautiful than mom? But, if mom makes it clear that she sees herself as anything but beautiful, that message will be quickly absorbed. As King wrote in her blog:

 “They have never doubted how wonderful I am.  They have never doubted my beauty.  How confusing it must have been for them to see me furrowing my brow in the mirror and sucking in my stomach and sighing...How confusing it must have been to have me say to them, 'You think I am beautiful, but you are wrong.  You are small and you love me, so you're not smart enough to know how unattractive I am.  I know I am ugly because I see myself with mean eyes.  You are my child and I love you, but I will not allow myself to be pretty, for you.  No matter how shining you are when you watch me brushing my hair and pulling my dress over my head.  No matter how much you want to be just like me, I can't be beautiful for you and I don't know why.'"

Offbeat Mama picked up King’s blog post, where it has found an even bigger, incredibly supportive, audience. As Laura commented, “Thank you for this. I trace my stretch marks on my stomach, and I remember my baby pushing on me from inside. I love my imperfectly perfect body…but then society creeps in, and like you I sigh in the mirror at those same imperfections. I will save this to remind me that I am beautiful.” Or, as Nicole said, “My son loves my stretch marks. We call them "Tigger stripes" because I got them when he bounced around in my belly like a tigger. I wouldn't wish them away…and it seems so important to him that I love them. I try to love me every day, and be kind to what I see in the mirror. I'm finally feeling beautiful because of my children. Something else I will forever owe them.”

King has been working on accepting her appearance for a while now and she tries to keep it up, though it isn’t always easy. “We’ve all been fed messages that we’re not enough to be beautiful. We’re not thin enough, attractive enough or fashionable enough. It’s hard to let go of those messages. It’s hard to reprogram all those years of feeling this way,” King told TODAY Moms.

But, she keeps at it. “If we can be kinder to ourselves, maybe they’ll learn to be kind to themselves,” King said on the phone. “You can’t go out in the world and expect these negative messages won’t reach your kids but you can make sure you’re not contributing to it.”

Do you make an effort to praise your own appearance in front of your kids?

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who will make an effort to let her kids hear her say kind things about herself.

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