I’m not shy about sharing hard things. I’ve written about my anxiety, I’ve written about drug addiction and alcoholism and death. I’ve also written about some things that have been said about Maria – things that she can’t change and things that may very well stay with her forever.
Adults are horrible. We are so vain and self-absorbed and even when we think we aren’t, we are. Here’s an example: I try really hard to spend my free time doing things for other people. Big things, little things, tiny things that I think are generous things but usually aren’t, but whatever. I like to think that makes me not quite self-absorbed. I like to think it proves I don’t really care too much about myself.
I know this because I downloaded this app that makes me look skinny.
I can’t even make this up.
I totally downloaded this app. I don’t ever post pictures from the results of this app because I’m fairly certain it’d be extremely obvious my face lost 5 pounds in a matter of minutes and my skin was flawlessly smooth and clear. But I still dink around on it. And then I find myself obsessing over what I might have to do to make my skin that smooth and that perfect shape. (The answer is cosmetic surgery) Because, you guys, the pretend picture of me is amazing.
So I’m very vain. I want to be thin and pretty. And I think most people are like this, at least in our culture. And having a tween (is 10 considered tween yet?) proved this to me.
Did you guys know that sometimes 10-year-olds go to school and apply makeup in between classes? And that they discuss who gets their mascara where and which blush is best for which season? They do. Maria got in the car horrified one day when at school, a girl whipped out her mascara brush after completing her spelling test. We had a good laugh, but it made me sad. She’s been told she should pluck her eyebrows because it’ll look better when she dances on stage and someone asked if she knew she had just one eyebrow and then another girl told her that if she didn’t shave her arms, she’d never get a boyfriend. Dude, if she shaved her arms, she would never get a boyfriend but that’s not the point I guess. The world has taught her that looks matter and only very specific looks at that… and it’s heartbreaking.
But the other day as I was picking up Charlotte from school, a mom stopped me.
I have admired this mom for months. She is beautiful and I don’t think it has anything to do with her physical looks (although she has that as well). She is confident and carries herself beautifully. She does nothing to show off any part of her body, but she doesn’t hide anything either. She dresses appropriately but I can tell very much it’s “her.” She looks comfortable in her skin and it radiates out through her smile and her eyes. She is always smiling and she just looks like she loves herself.
This mom said, “Are you Charlotte’s mom?”
“Yep, Charlotte’s mine!”
“Well, I do permanent makeup and my daughter came up to me the other day and said, ‘Mom, when I’m older, I want you to put hairs right here’ and pointed to the middle of her eyebrows, ‘because my friend Charlotte has that and she is beautiful.‘
Now, I’ve been emotional lately. Ask Tara. So this mom is very lucky I didn’t just break down crying. I’m pretty sure I held it together. I told her what a sweet thing that was to say and how she has no idea what that meant to me because we’ve struggled with this with my oldest (Maria, duh). She then said that she was happy to have heard her daughter say that because it shows how children aren’t caught up in society’s expectations.
Children only know beauty from what their hearts tell them. I think Charlotte is beautiful, absolutely. I’m also her mama and try and find a mama who doesn’t think her children are the most beautiful creatures on Earth. But I also know how beautiful of a friend she is. I know she is patient and she is generous. I know that she holds her smallest friends’ hands when they need help and that she shares what she has so her other friends feel included and not left out. I know that she doesn’t get aggressive and she doesn’t say mean things. She loves her friends.
Charlotte is beautiful.
This mom and I talked a little bit more and she said how she’s very upfront with her child that what she does (permanent makeup) isn’t to change how people look or to try and make them ‘look better.’ Instead, it’s to enhance what they already have. She said they talk about Frida Kahlo and what a strong and beautiful woman she was.
Which is weird because our house LOVES Frida Kahlo. I think this is why:
She’s got the hair and she doesn’t give a shit.
She expressed herself through art and self portraits. She was unapologetic in her interpretation of herself. She drew her face, hair and all, as she saw it..as she was. She was strong and stood up for what she believed in. She went through really hard times and life wasn’t easy.
It’s hard to be perfect examples. Actually, I think it’s impossible. I yell when I know I shouldn’t and I eat more Taco Time than I should. Sometimes I even use apps on my phone to make me look skinny. But this 90 second encounter with this mom showed be she is doing something right. And that maybe I should try a little harder myself.