My 11-year-old daughter came into my room to show me a selfie she just took of herself.
I studied the picture but didn’t even recognize that girl to be my daughter. Gone were the cute freckles that peppered her nose. The features I found adorable on her were filtered out giving way to an appearance that was more mature and counterfeit.
I told her exactly what I thought. That I liked her natural beauty better. She looked down at her enhanced selfie and shrugged, “Not me.”
Exactly. It was not her.
A few days later I noticed her school picture was turned to face the other way. When I questioned her about it, she made a face and said she didn’t like how she looked in the picture. I absolutely love her school picture, and I can’t figure out why she can’t see what I see.
I tried to remember myself at the same age. I know I used to try to hide my freckles with layers of liquid CoverGirl. My mom used to try to wipe it off before school, and I would just add another layer in the middle school bathroom. I can just imagine how intriguing a filter app would have been in the late 90s for me.
I am sad for girls growing up in these times.
Hiding behind made over avatars when the face they see in the mirror isn’t good enough.
Watching YouTube tutorials about priming and contouring their faces.
Looking up to people with so much makeup on, you wouldn’t be able to recognize them in the before picture.
Chasing perfection and hiding the so-called imperfections.
When will it stop? What is the answer? As a mom of a middle school girl, I simply don’t have the answer. I can just keep telling her I love her for her. I pray to God to help her see herself as I do. To love her adorable freckles and beautiful eyes that squint when she laughs. The tiny dimple that shows up when she shows her authentic smile. I want her to see that girl. The real girl. The girl I fell in love with when I first laid eyes on her.
She needs me differently now.
She needs me to tell her all the things I love about her even though she doesn’t believe them. I will keep telling her anyway. She needs me to love her through these difficult preteen years.
And I will.