My daughter thinks I’m beautiful.
She’s seven, and her eyes don’t see flaws the same way mine do.
Her fingers trace over the delicate stretch marks on my stomach, the place where she and her brother made their home so long ago now.
She’s proud of how soft my hair is. Where I see frizz, she sees volume. Her eyes delight in the “sparkles” she sees in my hair. I see mousy brown laced with grey, but in her eyes, silver streaks are hints of magic and not signs of age.
The extra curves I possess, the plump roundness of belly that sticks out of the top of my jeans, are symbols of comfort to her. She squeezes them gently and rubs them as she walks by.
She counts my freckles and sunspots, giving them names as I do hers.
Freckles are something to be excited about and to fuss over, not a reason to regret all those sun-filled days where sunscreen was forgotten.
The movements of my body are clumsy and awkward. But where I lack grace and refinement, she sees silly fun. She asks me to do that dance move again, again. She tries to move her body like I do, a twinkle of mischief as she learns to shake her hips back and forth.
Where I see flaws, my daughter sees beauty. And I don’t dare correct her.
Because someday, her body will look like mine. Signs of aging, a marred body that produced life. Wrinkles and streaks of gray from age and wisdom. Tired eyes, dark circles betraying the exhaustion she’ll try hard to hide from her family.
A body that has seen things, and felt things, and held small children close as they breathe in the smell that means home.
And if I talk poorly about these silver streaks, how will she think about hers when they arrive?
And if I sigh in the mirror, trying to hide the curves that time has brought me, what will she think of the folds in her body as they appear?
And if I talk poorly about this body that made her, how will she feel as her body changes to carry a child of her own?
So I’ll nod confidently at my weight reflected in the scale, should she happen to see me stepping onto it. And I’ll run my fingers through my hair and remark about how curly my hair wants to be today. I’ll admire my own nose and delight in my increasing amounts of freckles and wear the bathing suit to the beach because I only get one body and I’m learning to love it.
I don’t dare speak ill of my body in front of her. Because my genes are strong, and someday, this body will mirror hers. And I don’t dare speak ill of this beautiful girl I’ve made, and I don’t dare speak ill of the beautiful woman she’ll become.