Like most parents I look at my daughter and see such a beautiful little girl. I see her eyes, her hair, her skin and love every tiny part of her. I see her blemishes – the scar on her lip where she fell over, running with a straw cup in her mouth and the scar on her chin where she fell over in the lounge and I love those too, the little things that have come as she has grown that make her who she is and shows the things that she has experienced.
Then I look at her again and I am taken back to myself at the same age. I had that same beautiful red hair, that same flawless fair skin and those blonder than blonde eyelashes. LP is the picture of me as a child.
Then I roll the years forward and remember using mascara and eyeshadow in my teens. From there spiralled my affair with make up. We’ve never had a full blown romance, but I have always used mascara – I have never been able to leave the house without mascara on in my whole adult life as I feel my eyelashes are too fair, non existent really. On days where I have plans I wear foundation too but really it takes a lot for me to use more make up than that – I’d need to be going to something special to get the blusher, eyeshadow and lip gloss out! But still, I see my flaws, my skin that is too fair, blotchy and lined slightly by the years. I see those fair eyelashes and when I have an event or night out I even choose contact lenses over glasses to hide the fact I need glasses to see clearly.
I remember the 16 year old that got hair straighteners for Christmas and straightened my hair religiously after that. I remember getting my hair highlighted when I was 18 and going back every couple of months to have it redone, being so blonde the last time I had it done that I hardly recognised myself but liking the fact that the ginger of my hair was being lost gradually over time. I saw that red hair as an imperfection too and tried to hide it along with everything else.
I then look back at LP, at that same ginger hair, those same eyelashes and that same fair skin and wonder how she could ever see any of her features as anything but perfect. I wonder at what age we start to lose sight of our natural beauty and instead see the perfect images that the media and other people portray, comparing ourselves to those images and turning our features into flaws.
I look at LP, so young, so innocent and so beautiful and it makes me sad to think that she will, without doubt, one day be unhappy with how she looks. For me, I was unhappy with my hair, amongst other things, because I was bullied so relentlessly. LP will probably one day start to compare herself to pop stars or characters in the latest soap. She’ll see the stick thin images in magazines with their drawn on eyebrows, airbrushed skin and, like most girls, will strive to be like them.
I try to show LP that she should be happy as she is, I tell her she’s beautiful often, inside and out, and she will ask if she looks pretty in a certain dress or with her hair a certain way and I always tell her that she looks pretty anyway, even in her PJs and with messy hair. The children don’t often see me putting make up on but even so LP already knows what makeup brushes are for and she will ask me if I’m going to paint my face that day.
I grew up seeing my Mum put on a full face of makeup before leaving the house, even to go to the corner shop or on the school run. She couldn’t have a hair out of place and got up hours before everyone else just to get ready. My Mum wasn’t the things that magazines were made of, she would never have been on a billboard or on TV, but she was my Mum and growing up she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. She was perfect to me.
We see our parents’ natural beauty as children, and as parents we see our children’s natural beauty every day. It is just a shame that as we grow up we cannot keep sight of our own natural beauty too.