I grew up thinking that beauty was synonymous with a small frame and pretty physical attributes. I had the best mother in the world, but something I can’t deny about her was her obsession with beauty standards. She taught me that in order to be beautiful, I needed a perfect body and every effort and sacrifice would be worth it to achieve that dream. From my mother, I learned how to diet and exercise to lose weight fast. I love her and will forever love her, but I don’t want my daughter to learn the same from me.
I want my daughter to be different from me. The truth is, even if I didn’t want this, it is inevitable because she has Down syndrome and our lives will never be the same; however, I’m sure I would have wanted the same for her even if the circumstances were different.
I want her to be different from me because I don’t want her to live a moment feeling that she’s not worthy or good enough because she doesn’t fit in an “S” clothing size or because she doesn’t look like a runway model.
My daughter has always faced weight challenges non-related to her diet or eating in excess, but due to her metabolism and unique constitution. Along with her, I’ve learned to eat healthy, to enjoy food, to read labels, to understand the benefits of organic and natural, and much more.
Throughout the years, she has learned to make the best decisions when it comes to feeding her body. She knows when to stop and how much to eat. I’m proud to watch her growing up as a balanced person who understands that food is neither the enemy, nor the comforter. She’s learned in a couple of years what took me decades to understand myself.
I feel happy to watch her celebrating her reflection in the mirror. She loves herself deeply and she demonstrates it all the time through confidence and strength. I love every curve of hers, and I’m proud to see the best part of myself projected on her. Through my experience, I’ve given her a different perspective of beauty and there isn’t a single day we don’t admire ourselves in the mirror to remind each other how beautiful and perfect we are just by being ourselves. We both know beauty is not related to appearances, but to self-love.
To those who haven’t yet stopped to think about it, I encourage you to analyze how our prejudices and stereotypes affect the lives of those we love – do it now. Let`s teach our children to grow up without stupid beauty standards. Let’s focus on what is really important: to teach them to love themselves through our unconditional love for them and for ourselves. Children know nothing about prejudice or judgement; they learn this from their parents. Be the change we need in this world.