Beautiful Enough: Defining Beauty for My Daughters

After growing up in Los Angeles and Orange County, California, and seeing an array of people from all different backgrounds and of all different looks, you would think I would be more accepting to my own natural look, but I wasn’t. I always felt like I never looked good enough. I was never beautiful enough or at least not in comparison to what was splashed across MTV and Cosmopolitan magazine. I’m positive I wasn’t the only who felt like this.

Photo credit: Nancy Fohrenck

Luckily, things have been moving in a more positive direction for us all, especially for our children, as women are embracing themselves as beautiful no matter what color skin, shape, and size they are. I love seeing social media posts with empowered women creating a new era of what our children and young teenagers see and view as beautiful. I am constantly trying to change with the times and be like these confident women, but it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. 

My family has always been so loving and supportive… and mostly positive regarding my looks thanks to being such brutally honest Asian Americans. I’ve been told my whole life that “You’re lucky you have double eyelids.” Why does that make me lucky? Is it because this is something we view as far more beautiful just because we see it on TV and in magazines? Would I be less lucky if my eyes were different?

On the other hand, when I was young, my dad would always pull up on the tip of my nose hoping to shape it a little higher and make it more pronounced because apparently my nose was lacking. So, here I am in my 30s, still pinching the tip of my nose as habit and hoping that one day I’d wake up and there it would be a pointed tip, no surgery necessary. I’d be lying if I said I never looked into having fillers done for the sake of having a more defined tip.

Recently, I went out with friends. We were talking magnetic lashes, sharing where we buy them and what kinds we use and love. I made one comment to a good friend about how her eyes weren’t that much bigger than mine, and she got an almost offended look. Really, I meant the width so that she wouldn’t have to cut too much of the length off of the false eyelashes. I didn’t get to react as quickly as I would’ve liked to because, honestly, I was a bit startled by her reaction. Another friend noticed the awkwardness and knew why and felt the need to correct my wording so that it wouldn’t seem like I’d made an offending comment on purpose. But why are comments like this seen as negative in the first place? Because that’s what we’ve been told for so long: how to make our eyes look bigger, how to look more beautiful. So no wonder that comment came off as it did. Can we change this thought for our children? 

When my 7-year-old daughter sees me putting on eye makeup, she often asks why I put on so much and why so dark. My answer is always, “To make my eyes look bigger.” Here I am, teaching her the same idealized definition of beauty instead of teaching her something different, something that could positively influence how she views her natural beauty and that of those around her.

Beauty isn’t everything. I know that. I want so badly to instill this notion in my daughters’ minds, but I also want them to grow up knowing they are beautiful enough just the way they are and that beauty comes in all forms. I stay up at night thinking about this and how I myself can change for the better, mostly for my girls and how they view beauty.

This year, I decided I’d focus on what I love about myself to evoke confidence so that my girls can see it in me and then carry their own confidence with them. I constantly remind myself of positive things about my body, such as having carried and giving birth to four beautiful, healthy babies. I have a strong body, and I should be grateful for it. I hope you feel the same with your bodies.

I’ve been challenging myself in ways I haven’t before. I’ve been exercising despite how much I hate working out. I wear less makeup, but when I do, I try to talk about it differently, “I love my eyes and want to enhance them with makeup,” instead of what I would normally say about wishing they were bigger. I’m going to speak about my body in more positive ways and show pride for all that it can do and has done.

Every day, I find myself one step closer to being like those confident women I spoke of earlier. If I’m not the change for my daughters, who will be?