To a daughter their mother is the most beautiful thing in the world.
My mom once told me I looked beautiful, though more likely and fairly often she would state with certainty, both in eye and word: “you are beautiful.”
I suppose many mothers bestow such a blessing upon their daughters. But then I think of my mother, who was never even whispered a, “you are loved,” let alone an “I love you.”
I never quite believed those words that my mother told me with strength, “you are beautiful.”
Instead of believing her words, I stood in the false comfort of a steamy shower looking down. My brain screams, “you are fat” with somehow more authority than my mother’s certainty. I look back at my legs. They are hairy, lack the assumed tan of a Southern Californian blonde, and the left thigh likes to kiss the right. Then my eyes follow my legs, to what hides between. They don’t linger too long because they are sure that what is there isn’t right. “That vagina is inside out!,” my brain screams. But then I see my gut; it almost hides my hips.
I hide behind a false pride of the body. False because I am not proud of mine.
My mother always could read those thoughts on my face. In those times of weakness she would grab me by the shoulders, begging me to hear her. She always surprised me with her strength even though I liked to boast to my friends about her impressive pull-up ability. Her voice drew my eyes to hers: “you are beautiful.” All the while my inner voice grew louder. Somehow I had grown unable to trust the words of the most honest person I had ever known. My brain yelled at me, “I am fat, out of shape, and lonely. I hate it.”
What if she had said: “you are strong”?
I love my mother, but I never wanted to be more like her than I do now. I lack her motivation and determination. I lack her strength. I lack her kind words of encouragement. Where she can do 8 pull-ups I can’t even do one.
Maybe if she told me “you are strong,” my will wouldn’t be so weak. Maybe if I believed her when she grabbed my arms and told me “you are beautiful,” I would have remembered I look like her, the most beautiful thing in the world, and she is strong.