For parents, their children are the most beautiful living creatures in the whole wide world. But after becoming a Mother, I realized that the reverse holds true as well. Can you imagine someone calling my “Aadhar card” picture beautiful? Well, yes that someone is none other than my 28 months old daughter. Because of the obvious shift in priorities, I have barely bothered about the way I have looked since the time parenthood happened. But, she never fails to shower me with accolades, more so on the most unexpected occasions.
So, a nasty pimple popped up on my forehead yesterday, and my little one was enamoured by this irritating bump on my face. She exclaimed with exhilaration – “Mummy ka pimple sundar lag raha hai” (Translated to “Mummy is looking pretty with the pimple”). Only a child can find a pimple on the mother’s face beautiful! I was evidently amused by her compliment and laughed uproariously. But she seemed a bit vexed with my laughter because she was expecting a heartfelt “Thank You” from me for her admiration, as that is how I usually respond to her praises. I was about to reason with her by saying – “How can this pimple be pretty darling?”, and then refrained from doing so as soon as realization dawned – the realization that I was unnecessarily feeding in the ridiculous notion in her head that a pimple is ugly; the realization that however much we want to believe that our soul is what truly makes us beautiful, certain perceptions are too deeply etched in our minds and subconsciously we pass them on to our children.
I have grown up with the problem of acne and pimples, and during my teens I was actually convinced that I was ugly because of them. Though, thankfully, because of the way I was raised by my mother, it did not affect my confidence in my abilities. But, I would never deem myself attractive and have avoided parties at times in the past because of my skin condition. This till life happened; till I understood how your thoughts and actions have much more power to leave a positive impact on someone; till I became cognizant of the fact that I have been bestowed with immense love from people around because of the person I am. I stopped looking at myself through the conventional lens created by society about something as abstract as beauty. But, even as my views on this matter evolved over the years, here I was almost about to shove down stereotypical thoughts into my innocent daughter’s mind till better sense prevailed.
A child is bestowed with a non-judgemental and simple thought process, devoid of hatred, biases and complexities. It is we who fill in the little minds with disparaging and callous ideas. In a world which constantly indulges in body-shaming, it is important to inculcate in our kids the quality of being able to embrace oneself without being self conscious. It is essential for them to have a healthy and positive concept in their minds about body image, and be accepting of not just themselves, but others too. So be it a pimple or scar or patch or anything else that does not conform to the criteria of “good looks” prevalent in the society, they need to be able to believe that it does not make a person ugly in any way.
This, however, cannot be achieved by only telling our children that they are beautiful the way they are. We would need to emulate the same behaviour as parents and be accepting of our own selves as well. As they grow, there will be a plethora of external influencing factors that will threaten to wobble their self-confidence and belief system. But, starting from the start will ensure a strong foundation and will make it easier for us as parents to tackle such situations later in life. Having a conversation with them can go a long way in helping them to rise above their insecurities, if any and be comfortable in their own skin.
Skin problems are just like any other health issue. They can be painful and uncomfortable, and may require medical consultation and treatment. But, they do not define us in any way. This conversation with my daughter made me introspect and relook at how I feel about my own appearance. As a parent, I have now become cautious about abstaining from inadvertently advocating for preposterous ideas or unfair standards of beauty that are entrenched in my mind as a result of years of conditioning. We all have our imperfections and these are what make us perfect in a way we are meant to be.
This morning my daughter complimented me yet again, and this time I locked her in a warm embrace and thanked her, and she flashed the most adorable smile ever. It is true that the only person who can teach you parenting is your own child.