Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: You are beautiful

Posted June 4

"I'm definitely more insecure than you are," the 20-something brunette in a romper said with a Valley Girl lilt as she scrolled through photos on her phone. "There's no way you guys are posting this. I look horrible. The lighting is so bad."

"I'm definitely more insecure than you are!" said the flawless blonde in a white billowy peasant blouse and a short tight miniskirt.

"Let's just take another one if you don't like the other ones we took," said a disembodied voice coming from behind the door of the closed bathroom stall. "That's what celebrities do. They just keep taking selfies until they get a good one. Seriously. It's true."

The three girls squeeze together in front of the two sinks and began taking selfies in the mirror so they could capture a caption stencil there that said "you are beautiful."

You Are Beautiful

In the meantime, several adults, some with small children, had lined up to wash their hands at the sinks, which the girls were blocking. I didn't so much have a problem with them taking selfies as I did with them being unaware of the line forming behind them for the sink. I thought they should've realized how disrespectful they were being. But, they were so caught up with taking the perfect photo that I don't think they even realized people were behind them.

Finally, after taking about 20 photos, they piled rambunctiously out of the restroom, leaving the sink to the people who had been waiting.

I didn't say anything to the young women, but I did think about their conversation for several days after that. I thought about them comparing their level of insecurity to one another. I also thought about them aspiring to the status of celebrities, who post perfect photos. I thought about the pressure young women feel - and some adults - to always look perfect, especially on social media.

It's not a pressure I grew up with, so I find it hard to wrap my head around, considering most of my selfies involve the exercising with no make-up or discernible hairstyle. The only thing I have to compare it to from my youth is when my mother would choose a Christmas photo where she looked better than the rest of us did. When I called her on it, she openly admitted her first priority was to make sure she looked good in that photo.

If I had talked to those young women, here's what I would've said: Beauty is fleeting. Looking perfect is boring and uninteresting. Interesting people have flaws and aren't afraid to show them. Real beauty comes from confidence and kindness.

It took me many years to learn these lessons, and I suspect it will take our children longer given the culture they are being raised in. So, it's up to us to make sure they understand that real beauty doesn't come in a bottle or from perfect lighting. And, that no matter how many good selfies you take, the person who stares back at you in the mirror every morning is the real, imperfect, beautiful you - flaws and all.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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