I Feel Pretty

“It’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

– Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

Before I write this post, let me help you make a good life choice: go grab a girlfriend, your wallet, and an outfit you love. Hop in your car and drive to a theater that is playing “I Feel Pretty”, the latest Amy Schumer movie. If it’s out of theaters by the time you get this advice, follow the first three steps, but rent the movie online and settle in on your couch with your comfiest clothing.

Okay great. Now that you have improved your life 100%, let’s hash this out.

I loved this movie. I thought it was hilarious and brilliant. The depth of the concept presented was so eloquently laid out. It was relatable and accurate on so many levels. Schumer was a perfect leading woman to help us address the mirror that we are all looking into. The one where we constantly feel the need to pick ourselves apart and compare ourselves to the women standing nearest.

This is not the first movie or blog post about this concept. We are all committed on some level to learning how to better view ourselves and others. It’s a natural concept to be drawn to.

Something happened the other morning at my house. It fits almost too perfectly with the movie “I Feel Pretty”. Timing man. It’s cool how things happen at just the right time.

My older sister was doing her makeup in the hallway mirror by my 2 year old’s bedroom. My daughter was silently watching her apply her foundation when my sister (Auntie Rachel) offered the brush to my daughter and told her she could help if she’d like.

My daughter tentatively took the brush and began dabbing the powder onto Rachel’s cheeks. A grin of satisfaction spread across her little face and she asked if she could do more. Rachel let her help with all kind of things, including her mascara (yes, she is the bravest woman I know).

Once her makeup was done, Rachel applied some purple lipstick to herself and to my daughter’s lips and then looked at them in the mirror and said “Wow! We look SO fancy!” Jemma made a kissy face and repeated, “so fancy!”.

My sister is a women’s advocate. She works in very difficult situations to help women overcome abuse and trauma. She shared with me a new concept she has been applying to her life. Rather than referring to her makeup as pretty, she refers to it as fancy.

I didn’t think much of it, as we were busy with other things that morning. But the phrase kept coming back to my mind. I put Jemma in a skirt a few days later, and instead of saying “Look how pretty you look!” as she watched herself spin in the mirror, I said “Look how fancy you are!”

Unknowingly, I had accepted this phrase and begun to think about the importance of it.

Our words can seem so harmless. When we let our daughters try our lipstick, or apply some nail polish, we automatically say things like “So pretty!” Without intentionally doing so, we are building a culture that correlates this act of outward decoration with prettiness – or beauty.

Words are powerful. I believe this with every fiber of my being.

We say so many things to our kids and each other without really thinking about it.

Ever seen a friend at work who wasn’t wearing makeup and your first comment was, “Hey you look tired today, what’s up?” We do this to each other ladies! I hate this, but I’m guilty of it. We are so used to each other in makeup that we don’t even recognize how pretty we are without it.

What if we were able to shift these correlations to healthier ones?

Makeup, dresses, and jewelry  should be associated with being fancy, elegant, snazzy, and fun – rather than pretty, beautiful, and stunning.

Young girls need to be seeing their mom’s confidence shine with or without makeup. Young girls need to hear their dads tell their moms that they are stunning, not only when they have gotten dressed up to go out – but when they get home from a long day, wipe the makeup off and throw on their comfy clothes. Or on a morning when they wear a nice dress, but decide to skip the makeup. The same goes for young boys. They are watching and listening too. If they associate confidence and beauty with their mom only when she is wearing makeup, they will make correlations without meaning to.

I love the idea of shifting this in my home.

I love makeup! I love doing Jemma’s nails and offering her my lipstick color of the day (I have many). I love letting her help me pick out clothes in the morning. These are all things I looked forward to as I became a mom, and I don’t think any of them are harmful to her. It’s the correlation of these things to my confidence and my beauty that could become a misconception as she grows.

I want to make a concerted and intentional effort to associate these routines with being fancy – because being fancy is FUN but not necessary.

I want to make a concerted and intentional effort not to associate these routines with being pretty – because being pretty is not a result of what we wear or put on.

So let’s shift this. Let’s shift it for our daughters, our sons, our nieces and nephews. For each other.

There’s nothing wrong with being and feeling fancy, but don’t forget where beauty really comes from.