Monday, June 15, 2009

Beautiful Like Me: Influences

What person or people are the most influential about how you feel about yourself? Who influences you the most to feel beautiful?

This is the second “Beautiful Like Me” post that I’m writing while traveling home from a vacation. I’ve been thinking about this one long and hard and I’ve come to the conclusion that my answer is different depending on what age I was. Probably as a young child, my parents were most influential. Then, as a growing child, I guess I would say those in my school were highly influential over how I felt about myself. Those school days were tough as I had to discover that I wasn’t nearly as special or “beautiful” in school as I was made to feel at home with family. And today, my husband and children influence me most in recognizing my daily beauty and strengths.

It’s funny how things that I used to think would be ugly are now so so beautiful because of my family. For example:

Beautiful belly of stretch-marks:
I proudly run my fingers across the stretch marks on my belly. I remember the heart-pounding breathlessness I experienced while watching two blue lines appear on the pregnancy test. I recall the shaky legs that ran me excitedly to my husband, with my pee-covered stick in hand, as undeniable evidence that he had, in fact, given me a baby. And I fondly recall the thrill of carrying healthy, strong, and active babies. I was WAY too excited to run lotion over my belly each day, so my scars honor those months of joy and anticipation.

I am beautiful.

Beautiful rugged fingernails: Today my fingernails are chipped, often shortly trimmed, and filled with all sorts of dirt and grime. When I look at them, I’m reminded that I’ve chosen to be an active mommy. I go to the swimming pool with my children to swim, not to lay out in the sunshine. I go for frequent nature walks where I pick up the rolley-polley or earth worm for the kids to put in their observation jars. My hands frequently wash and comb my daughter’s long, thick hair and braid, twist, and pony it often. My hands dig in deep soil planting herbs and vegetables for my family and I doctor skinned knees, bruised elbows, and clean up the vomit after an unfortunate tummy ache. Who has time for maintaining fingernails when nurturing babies? By the time I’m in a position to have fancy, manicured nails I’ll most undoubtedly miss these days of mess.

I am beautiful.

Beautiful wrinkly smile: As tired as it sometimes may be, my smile is genuine. Today it is slowly being framed by laugh wrinkles. Along the corners of my eyes and etched deeply below my high cheek bones are the fossilized signs of happiness. I smile often watching my amazing family—laughing at my oldest son’s "serious" 3-year-old conversations, my daughter’s delightful 5-year-old homemade songs, my baby's 1-year-old dance steps, and my husband’s amazingly unmatched, quick wit. I heartily laugh, open-mouthed, free, and uncontrollably. Every day my husband and children further develop those deep fleshy folds of laughter.

I am beautiful.

Who influences you most? Parent, friend, society, colleagues, or family? Please join the "Beautiful Like Me" project. This project aims to raise awareness about poor body image and lack of self-esteem in today’s youth. Whether you have children, grandchildren, or encounter youth anywhere in society—you can be an important voice in this project. Every two weeks bloggers are faced with a new question. I hope you'll join in!

8 ♥ thoughtful comments ♥:

Sandi McBride said...

I was always proud of my stretch marks, too...and for exactly the same reasons...I think we are all beautiful in our own way, some in the eyes, some in the smile, some in the comes shining through, no matter what part of us it comes from...and God loves us just for who we are. He made us, after all

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

Loved this post, daughter.

beckyw said...

I love, love my "mommy marks!" We really are beautiful!

sujata said...

what a lovely post. Stretch marks wrinkles unkempt hair and nails all make us what we are..very happy moms and at peace with our body individuals. Thanks for dropping by.

Debbie said...

What a lovely post, it sure gave me thoughts to ponder, you are not only beautiful but share a beautiful post.

Tricia said...

This is a wonderful, inspiring post and speaks so clearly of what you've decided to value in your life. Thanks for sharing and for participating.

"FINE"al thoughts... said...

Loved loved loved this post. So true and genuine and wise. Thanks for reminding us that we are all beautiful!

Farmgirl Paints said...

Hi Shaye,
I love your list. We HAVE to just love ourselves the way we are or life would just be miserable. God made us in His perfect image and yet we complain...shame!! Great post:)

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