"In initiating the mother within us, we are gifted with the opportunity to ask ourselves a hard question: do I want to continue perpetuating messages about women and beauty to a future generation? What messages do we want to communicate to this next wave of women and how can we come together to redefine beauty at a time when social media and selfie culture seem to be taking over?"
When I discovered I was pregnant with a baby girl I was thrilled. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for a healthy baby. Period. But, I had been convinced this baby was a boy and when the news came that it was a little girl, my husband and family jumped with joy. Then the reality sank in, the dawning realization of what it means to raise a woman in the world today, and I began to ask myself, “What lessons do I want to impart to this new generation as her first, and primary, teacher?”
How we handle our self-image is a silent communication to our children which they watch and witness day-in and day-out through observation. Growing up I vividly remember how my mom began each day, sitting at her vanity, blow drying her hair, and applying her makeup. The message was clear: in order to leave the house, we need to look a certain way. It was silent, never spoken, but absorbed into my own, daily routine.
The first time my stepdaughter saw me apply powder, watching from the bathroom door, she asked, “why are you putting that all over your face?” I was horrified, embarrassed and slightly ashamed. She was 9. Without realizing it, I was already teaching a young woman that her natural appearance was not enough and that in order to be presentable she would need to perfect her image. I began to question the choices I was making and where they arose from in the first place. But truthfully, I didn’t make any radical changes. I did start wearing less makeup, and feeling more confident in my natural beauty, but it was minimal at best.
Motherhood ushers forward everything that is asking to be healed within us. It accelerates the healing process by bringing us face-to-face with our deepest insecurities, longest running habits, and learned ways of navigating the world which we have absorbed from our family of origin, the culture, and the media. It can be sticky, challenging and confronting.
In initiating the mother within us, we are gifted with the opportunity to ask ourselves a hard question: do I want to continue perpetuating messages about women and beauty to a future generation? This is tough, especially because we have benefited from it for so long. As a woman I have benefited from looking a certain way and maintaining traditional beauty standards by gaining jobs, relationships, admiration, and more. It’s hard to give something up that you have benefited from.
I don’t think the answer is giving up makeup entirely or surrendering our skincare routines. Skin is of course our largest organ and deserves to be well taken care of like the rest of our body. I do think we can look at the choices we make, and why we make them, so that a new level of consciousness permeates our unconscious messaging. Throughout my pregnancy I’ve experimented with different approaches - shortening my morning routine to make it easier and more efficient so that when baby arrives I can still care for myself and feel confident without needing more than 10 minutes to be ready to walk out of the house. I’ve played with different products, taken more time to investigate the ingredients, environmental impact, and sourcing. And when I’ve reached for my makeup, I’ve asked “why,” “is it necessary,” and “who am I doing it for?”
The truth is, I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know one thing: from the time she is born I want my daughter to know that she is beautiful from the inside out. That she does not need to change a thing about herself to be loved. That true love is unconditional and that true beauty transcends the exterior. The most “beautiful” people I have known have not been defined by their faces but by the kindness in their hearts, the generosity in their actions, and the profound quality of their presence.
As women, I think it’s time we come together and begin a dialogue. What messages do we want to communicate to this next wave of women and how can we come together to redefine beauty at a time when social media and selfie culture seem to be taking over? What do we value? And how can we elevate women so that our contributions and not our appearances count more as commodities?
*For more information on "Initiating the Mother" and Lauren's new prenatal yoga program, click here.