Saturday 11 October 2014

What makes you beautiful? What legacy are you leaving?

Dove: Legacy

When I first saw this video from Dove, I had tears in my eyes. What is it that makes you super emotional once you pass the age of 40?! Who am I kidding, I guess I've always been inclined to sprout a tear or two at the drop of a hat….

Some new research from Dove has shown that how women feel and talk about beauty has a profound effect on the self-esteem of girls around them. This video shows that young girls absorb the thoughts and feelings of family members, especially their mothers. It is important for us to be positive role models

I don’t think I've ever really stopped to think or talk about beauty for any length of time, but I was intrigued to know what our eldest girl has picked up from me. I decided to follow this Dove video up by exploring what Tilly’s views on beauty were.

So without any discussion beforehand I asked Tilly to write down her answers to the question ‘what makes you beautiful’, and this video below is the full unedited (although admittedly in her best ‘camera’ rather than natural voice!) clip of her reading them out:

Her list of what made her beautiful was: her hair, being kind, being very funny, how skinny she is, the way she'll always be there for someone if they need her, the clothes she wears, and how energetic she is (or lazy, her words!).

I'm definitely pleased that it wasn't all about appearance, and that she has picked up on some good attributes. I guess what has stuck in my mind most is the word ‘skinny’. It’s not a word I would ever use to describe anyone, along with ‘fat’. Over the past year I have heard Tilly occasionally say that she is fat after coming home from school, so I've assumed it’s a topic the girls have discussed in the playground. 

I can't call myself slim; like plenty of other mums there is definitely a bit of extra weight hanging around after childbirth that I’d like to lose, but I’m not unhappy with my body and I don’t see it as a great problem. During my childhood I do remember my Mum attempting several different diets, but from that I learned that diets don't work all that well, they are more likely to have a yo-yo effect, and what you need to do is change your lifestyle. I've always been pretty happy with my lifestyle and am proud to say I've never followed any sort of diet, rigid or otherwise. Everything in moderation is ideal, although of course I am no saint!

At the same time as Tilly, I was writing down my own answers to the same question, and my list was as follows: my smile, my eyes, the fact that I like to help others, my curves, my long legs and a good heart.

I have to admit that I struggled with knowing what to write; I don’t think many of us stop to appraise ourselves and it doesn't come naturally. My belief has long been that beauty is what is on the inside, not what shows on the outside. It is difficult to forget our vanity though and most of us are probably guilty of wanting to change our appearance in some way. I can certainly point out a few ‘problem areas’. I think most of them could be sorted if I could just have a suntan – it took me until the age of 40 to appreciate that I’m stuck with this skin bright white enough to light up a dark room. Tilly has of course inherited this and I’m sure she’ll curse me more than once for it as she grows up!

Back to what really matters though - it's all about inner beauty for me. I'm older and wiser now, and I don't generally care about what people think of the way I look as long as I'm happy within myself. It's difficult to feel this way when you are a teenager though, so I just want to guide and support Tilly through the difficult peer pressure times as best I can. She is beautiful, and I hope she continues to believe that about herself.

Dove have created an amazing website which includes masses of great information and some 1-1 workshops about self esteem. They have been written so that women can talk girls (aged 7-17) through certain situations and help improve their self-esteem. Please do go and check it out at; there is so much useful information and advice.

This is a sponsored post; I rarely accept these but I feel this campaign is so important to highlight and will hopefully help me guide my own daughters through the difficult teenage years too.