When my daughter was 7, she wanted to be a rock star for Halloween. We bought her a sparkly outfit, and I got the idea of a make up and a hairdo which she agreed to. I was pretty happy with my accomplishment, especially given that I am not all that interested or experienced in creating make-ups and hairdos. I was anticipating her looking in the mirror and giggling happily ... what a cute little glamorous rock star she was.
Anya looked in the mirror and instantly broke into tears.
- What's wrong? You look so pretty! Don't you like it?
- No! I like MY face!
A similar thing happened when she was 4 - an artist painted a butterfly on her cute little face at the summer fair we attended. As soon as Anya looked in the mirror, she started crying and demanded to wash her face. Of course, we did, as soon as we paid the artist for her pretty amazing job.
"I like my face!"
How often do you say things like that looking at yourself in the mirror?
I admit, I don't do it very often. Not as often as I want to.
But I know that when I am happy and content with myself, I like my face just the way it is. Not because I am such a striking beauty that people faint just having a glance at me.
Not because I have a flawless skin (I don't - when I do in some of my photos, it is only a trick of light).
Not because I am fresh as a 20 year old can be and ready to conquer the world as soon as I jump out of bed early in the morning.
Especially not early in the morning.
I once took part in a psychological/transpersonal training (I was about 25) and lived for a week in a camp where we weren't allowed to use any make-up. I was such an obedient girl, I didn't. It was very difficult at the beginning, especially in a group of total strangers. So difficult that some women, not as obedient as myself, couldn't resist to put at least mascara on before they faced the group. Somewhere in the middle of the week camp, we had this mirror exercise which I believe changed my understanding of myself in just a few minutes (an hour? half an hour? we weren't allowed to have watches either). As we sat in a circle after the exercise, we shared our experiences with the group, and my friend and I went first because it was our turn in kitchen, and we had to prepare a meal for everyone before the group finished exchanging their experience. I said that by the end of the exercise, I did not want to leave this person. I felt so much love, I really liked the person who I saw in the mirror. I left to the kitchen, so I will never know what experiences other people had when they sat in front of a mirror for quite a while, in silence, being able to see only their own face in a dim candle lit room. But I knew that what I experienced was love.
I believe that as little children, we have this amazing ability to really accept everything about ourselves. We know no shame, we know no imperfections. We have no idea about any "standards" of how we are "supposed" to be - our appearances, our likes and dislikes, our interests, our curiosity about the world. Everything is new, fresh, everything is a wonder, everything provides endless possibilities of exploring. All we know as little children is the miracle what is life. Until some grown ups start changing it for us. Suddenly, or not so suddenly, there are things about us which need to be corrected, improved, changed, sometimes radically. This resentment which we start feeling about the outer world, creep into our inner world as well... Suddenly, our eyes are not big enough or a wrong color, our lips are not full enough, and our nose is enormous and such a wrong shape. Skin, teeth, body shape, signs of aging, likes and dislikes, interests and passions... everything becomes a question mark. Not a wonder, not a miracle, not a pure innocent, unconditional acceptance of who we are - rather a sharp, unforgiving questioning of everything around and inside of us.
Those tears of my little one, just like millions of other little things about raising her, taught me more than any smart book on psychology could ever teach. "I like my face." My face is me. It is as beautiful and sacred part of me as my heart, and my legs, and my soul, and my skin, and my likes and dislikes. It is a wonder and miracle that is me. Little children know it before they know how to speak. One of the very first things they do as they are born is exploring their body - look at those hands! wow! they are amazing! Then feet... aren't they fascinating?! Fingers! Who knew fingers can be so entertaining! Mirrors and everything that sparkles and shimmers are endless awe - reflections start to interest us almost as soon as we are born into this world. Reflections of ourselves in everything we can see.
Now, when she is 11, my daughter is fascinated with all the make up tricks she can learn via YouTube, and I don't mind. It is another phase of exploring and fascination with who we are. I only want her to forever be in love with her face as she was as a little girl - not in a self-absorbed way, but in a deeply loving self-accepting way when you don't need a make up trick to convince yourself you are beautiful. In a way animals and nature and art which comes from the depth of the artist's being are beautiful just the way they are, with no corrections, standards and criticism of a harsh expert jury.
I like my face.
Not because it was on the last edition of the Vogue magazine.
Not because round faces are very "in".
Not because my hair color is trendy.
And not because people faint when they see my amazing beauty - they really don't.
Just because it is my face.
As beautiful and sacred part of me as my soul.
Trench - Michael Kors (via Nordstrom Rack, clearance). Jeans and tee - Lane Bryant. Scarf - thrifted. Shoes - Toms. Purse - B Makowsky.
I wear a foundation, a little eye shadow and clear lip balm. :)
The horse is made of drift wood - I don't know the artist's name, but isn't this horsey a beauty?