I’ve learned over the last few years how much my life was impacted by having a mother who had low self-esteem. I myself have 3 daughters now ages 1, 9, and 13. They are all at critical ages where teaching them self-esteem is very important, especially in the world we live in where women are demoralized and sexually exploited every day. I understand how important it is for me to keep my daughters uplifted and educated on what confidence is and how important it is for them to have it. I also know that if I don’t teach them that they are beautiful little girls constantly, then they will grow into women who don’t value themselves and also allow others to devalue them as well. At a very young age, I was taught both that I was pretty and ugly. I was taught by both of my parents that I was beautiful, although I knew that they thought I was beautiful because I was their daughter. On the contrary, I was taught by my mother that I was ugly. I was bullied a lot at school. I find it ironic that my mother was able to teach me both that I was ugly and beautiful at the same time because i know that she had no idea that she was even teaching me this.
Growing up, I never heard or saw my mom positively take a compliment about her looks from anyone. She would always roll her eyes and say “yeah right” or “yeah, I guess.” I picked up quickly that my mom didn’t think she was pretty. I was always told by family members and family friends that I looked just like my mother and always heard “girl you spit Kel-Lee out!” Subconsciously, I always wondered “how am I pretty when my mom thinks she’s ugly?”. “I look like her so does that mean I’m ugly too?” As I came into my teenage years, I realized that my grandmother(My mother’s mother) also had low self-esteem. I never said anything to my mom about it until I got to be an adult. I came to her and told her one day that because of all the stories that she had shared with me over the years about her relationships with men and her childhood and that I could understand why she didn’t have very good self-esteem. I told her that it was because she had never had anyone her life make her feel like she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Not even my father made her feel that way. Which was also ironic to me that my father could teach me that I his daughter was pretty but not his wife, my mother, the queen of our household.
Although I had this talk with my mother, it wasn’t until I had my first daughter that I really began to believe that I was pretty. I knew I had to break the mode with her. I knew that I had to stop at nothing to teach her how beautiful she was inside and out. I did so by telling her every day that she was beautiful, I let her watch me get dressed for dates, I read her books about beautiful little girls like her. I had to show her that it was ok for her to feel pretty because she is special inside and out. I ask her all the time “why are you perfect?” and her response is “because I’m your daughter.” She knows that no matter what any man or woman says to her that she is beautiful inside and out because she has a mother who not only tells her that she is beautiful but sets the example for her as well. My advice for any mother or mother-to-be who is struggling to teach their daughter(s) about self-esteem, in my opinion, she must teach herself about self- esteem and learn how to exude that. As mothers, we are our daughter’s first and sometimes only example of what it means and what it takes to be a confident woman.
Mrs. Kel-Lee D. Caesar-Wilson
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