On Sunday, I spent a little extra time getting ready for church. I straightened my hair and put on makeup. Straightening my hair is an usual occasion. I wear makeup rarely, maybe 4 times a month at most. Everly saw me pull out my makeup bag and came waltzing into the bathroom declaring she wanted some “nakeup,” too. I nonchalantly handed her a tube of white sparkly highlighter and she got to work swiping her cheeks with glitter. We don’t make a big deal out of makeup. I don’t vilify it. It’s just for fun and if she wants to pretend to be big like mommy for a little on Sunday, I don’t mind letting her play along and swipe her face with a wipe before we leave the house. To her, putting on makeup is just a glorified art project.
Her current favorite dress is her poofy red Christmas dress so we’ve worn it to church on several occasions. As a last request, she asked for “curlies” in her hair, something she’s never done, but seen me do a few times. I thought she may be old enough to finally sit still enough for me to curl her hair with the hot wand, and she did a great job.
Like all things exciting in Everly’s life, the final step is to show things off to daddy. We called down the stairs that Everly had something to show him and Nate walked over to the bottom of the staircase. Everly proceeded to glide down the stairs dramatically and saw her daddy waiting. She yelled for him to leave as she wanted to surprise him. She proceeded to cover her own face to keep the surprise alive until her grand reveal in the living room. Nate and I exchanged smiles as we watched Everly add her own set of pomp and circumstance to something as simple as getting dressed for church.
She made her way to the center of the living room, twirled in her red dress and declared, “Now I’m beautiful!”
Nate and I immediately corrected her. “Everly, you are ALWAYS beautiful. Makeup and clothes don’t make you beautiful. You are beautiful no matter what.”
We were kind of baffled where she got this idea. We tell her she is beautiful every single day. When she wakes up with messy bed head, when we’re playing outside and covered in dirt, when she’s splattered with paint. I am conscious not to talk about my body or appearance in front of her. When we exercise, I talk about how I like to see what my body can do and grow stronger. Feeling beautiful is something I struggle with and I have made a very conscious effort to help set Everly up with a positive attitude towards herself.
We try not to focus on her beauty, but it’s hard because we are absolutely enthralled by her. The compliments we give out in spades are about how kind she is, what a great helper she is, how funny and silly she is, and how she loves learning new things.
And yet, she still told us “Now, I’m beautiful.”
But after thinking about it more, I can see how it happens. I know when she puts on a dress-up costume with fluffy layers of tulle, I let out a “Woo-wee! Look at you girlie girl!” The ladies at church fuss over a cute outfit. Every single check-out worker compliments her purple glasses. One of the first comments out of an aquaintances mouth is usually about her spunky pigtails.
She’s already learning that for some reason her appearance matters to other people.
Sunday morning was a strong reminder that the messages she hears at home need to be louder than the constant refrain she hears from others.