You’re Beautiful

The world has evolved into a place where we all claim to respect the inner person…a world where we eschew ones’ physical appearance…where beauty doesn’t matter…

But let’s face it: Looks matter. Appearances matter. Beauty matters. And I don’t know anyone, male or female, young or old, who doesn’t want to be thought of as attractive.

So now that I’ve made this mornings controversial statement…

I’ll hit you with another:

I tell my daughter repeatedly that she is beautiful. Pretty much every day that I speak to her.

I know I am going against popular theory. I don’t care if I’m setting womankind back a thousand years. I just don’t care. I think people need to be told they are attractive by the people that love them. Because let’s face it- how many people worry that they are unattractive? There are entire industries that rely on being able to take advantage of people’s insecurities about their physical attractiveness… So this whole looks don’t matter thing we keep espousing clearly isn’t really working…

Sorry to say this, but kids who think they are physically less than are going to have confidence issues. They are going to think of ways to get people to like them because they don’t think that they are good enough. These little chasms of feeling less than are when the propensity to make not so great decisions creeps in… Kids make enough questionable choices- do we need to give them ammunition to make more?

Tell your kids they are attractive.

Tell your kids they are smart.

Tell your kids they are talented.

Tell your kids that they are special.

If you tell them enough times, they just might believe it. And when they believe that they are all these things, then physical appearance really doesn’t matter- because they become confident from the inside. And when kids feel that they are worthy…all sorts of doors open up.

The Uniform

My daughter sent me a picture recently. It was her and her roommates on a rooftop at some party. I asked her what the theme of the party was.

She said “what theme?”

And I said: “Well, you’re all in medium fade jeans and black tank tops. You’re all wearing white sneakers. And it even looks like your apple watch bands match.”

She responded: Nah.” No theme. That’s just the XYZ University started pack for weekend evenings.”

And I laughed. Because the group of kids most responsible for screaming about individuality and having 50 ways to express one’s sexuality is also the group most likely to become conformists.

And my daughter sent me a group shop of other people, and I saw what she meant: a bunch of young women in almost the exact same outfit. The guys all in jeans and graphic T shirts and sneakers…

So what makes these kids do this? Is it a feeling of belonging to a community? Or are they actually too scared to show who they really are?

I have friends who, like me, wear black most of the time. And then when they go on vacation, they attempt to figure out the style of the place they are going and adapt their wardrobe to that place. (FYI- I get that if you go to a tropical resort you may have to change up your style as your furry boots and wool turtlenecks might not work) I mean going to someplace with the same temperatures, but having a different style/look than you normally do.

Do you do this to blend in?


Do you do this to not stand out?

Are you adapting because you want to fully experience the place where you are, to add to the interest of your trip? Or are you trying not to be seen at all?

Now I fully admit that the style and look of the clothes my daughter wears is the same in DC as it is in NYC- her favorite clothes here are her favorite clothes there. So maybe this is just how Gen Z dresses…but I really don’t know

But now think about yourself: Do you dress in the clothes that make you feel confident from the inside? Or do you dress to feel accepted from the outside?

I know I feel more confident in my battery of black dresses and shirts and sweaters. I like the solid neutral palate that I can dress up with fun accessories. That’s my look and I’m sticking with it, no matter where I go or what I’m doing or who I’m with.

So how do you dress? As you like it, or as others do?

Going It Alone

Last week my daughter found out the authors of a book she was interested in were going to be at Town Hall here in the city, giving a talk about their book. She realized this the morning of the event, bought a ticket and attended the show.  Completely by herself. No friends, no me…just herself.

At 16, there was no way I would ever attend an event by myself.  My first thought would be “What kind of loser will people think I am because I’m at this alone?” I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the event.  I would have sat home.

But that sort of summed up my childhood…sitting home alone, too afraid to try anything.  Too afraid of how people would perceive me. I cared so much about what others thought of me.

I guess you know that’s changed.

Nowadays- I really don’t care what others think of me.  I speak my mind, wear what I want, do what I want. And I can’t help but wonder if this is why my daughter has the courage to try- to go out of her comfort zone. Maybe there is something to this actions speak louder than words….

See, when I was growing up my Mom was great at the “You can do anything” speech. Except when it was something my sister or I wanted to do. Then she would say “Why do you want to do that?” My Mother had conceived notions as to what was acceptable behavior, and what were acceptable pastimes. She had very strict codes of conduct that we were supposed to follow.

But my Mother is also the Queen of actually not doing anything.  My Mother has two hobbies: shopping and “discussing” politics. She actually DVR’s home shopping network.  And to say she discusses anything, let alone politics, would be an injustice to the definition of discuss.

My Mother has also never gone out of her comfort zone.  Ever.  I am 78% scaredy cat because my Mother’s innate fear of everything is so ingrained in me and I don’t think I can afford to spend that much money on therapy. So I grew up with my Mother telling me exactly what I should and should not do- what I was allowed to do, and what I was not allowed to do.

And it took me a long time to get out of my comfort zone.

When I finally had a child, I knew I did not want her to grow up with a sense of fear that was part of my DNA.  I knew I had to tell her she could do anything. But I also had to show her that I was willing to go out of my comfort zone. (well- a little, because we all know I hyperventilated climbing the steps of a lighthouse) I had to show her that I am willing to speak my mind about anything, take intellectual risks, go places alone if I am interested in something that no one else is.

Maybe it worked.

I will not take all the credit for her confidence. I actually don’t know what you’re born with and what you take on. (for the record I’m not getting into the nature/nurture today) But I do know that my daughter has a confidence that I just don’t have. My Husband, her Father- well, he doesn’t have it either.

I took the risk of having a child. I took the risk of choosing a way to raise her. I took the risk of believing in the path that was in front of me. I was confident in my choices.

I guess my daughter was watching.