Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Amelia's face draws so close to the glass, her breath leaves a foggy mist for just a few seconds before vanishing. What she can be looking at eludes me. Her face is smooth, unwrinkled by time and unscarred by the sun or a bad case of the chicken pox like her mother's face. When I look at her, I see my deep brown eyes set in a frame that can be described as nothing but beautiful.
Still, her eyes narrow as she puts her hand to her right cheek, swipes pudgy fingers backwards towards her hairline, and frowns, displeased by what she sees.
"Mommy. I have moles. Why do I have moles?"
Amelia is days away from her fourth birthday. She's too young for this sudden scrutiny of her body's appearance.
She doesn't live in a household where this mother spends hours on her appearance. Make-up is for trips to town, date night, or looking my best for God. Nail polish is for parties.
She's never seen me try on two or three outfits and fuss that I have nothing to wear. While we regularly use the word "beautiful" when describing a particular outfit or extra time spent on fixing hair, appearance is not something we dwell upon mainly because I am hyper conscious of how much pressure is put on young girls to look a certain way.
I don't want her to end up like me, a woman in her mid-thirties who still can't believe her husband finds her beautiful. He can say it a thousand times, and still, I expect him to change his answer, tell me he never really meant it.
In this house, the only time I use the word "ugly" is when a child screws up his or her face into a deep frown to express disapproval over something mommy has done. That sort of attitude is always ugly.
Somehow, though, here we are, mother and daughter having a conversation about her beauty.
I stoop to look closely at her face to see the defect she has discovered. My fingers trace a line of Hershey brown freckled dots run from the bridge of her nose across to her ear. Hollywood would call them "beauty marks."
She smiles and giggles at my touch. "That tickles, mommy."
I cup her face and raise it to lift mine, tell her this is how God chose to make her unique, so there would be no one exactly like her in the whole world. I explain that she is just like her mommy and her Grand mama, inheriting this predisposition somewhere tucked away in her double helix.
She examines my arms to confirm this fact, pointing out the tiny pinpoints not even my closest friends have probably ever noticed.
Then, I spin her around to face the mirror again.
"Look," I say counting each tiny dot. "They make a constellation. Remember those star pictures in the sky at night? The ones we studied last week in Sunday School when we learned about how God gave Abraham as many descendants as the stars in the sky? God painted one of those constellations right on your face."
Her face breaks open in a wide grin. "YEAAAAHHH! A constellation!"
And that's it. She runs out of the bathroom, loudly proclaiming to her brothers this exciting news.
For now, it is the right answer. But it is also a reminder that helping her understand and honestly believe that God made her beautiful inside and out is a war that has already begun.
It is a battle we mothers and fathers must fight daily for our little girls, not one where we merely sit back and wait for the questions to come but one where we are on the offense, exposing the lies before they have a chance to take root.
at 3:16 PM