Looking at my daughter, looking in the mirror

Often when I’m getting ready, Mary will wander into the bathroom to be with me. She asks if she can be fancy, too, so I lift her onto the vanity and hand her a makeup brush or lip gloss wand. She gazes into the mirror quietly, studying her reflection. The corners of her mouth lift slightly, then drop, then lift again as she tests out her smile. She settles somewhere between enthusiasm and coy — a restrained grin that is far from her natural smile. She leans forward, studying the angles of her nose, the curves of her cheek.

I cringe because I recognize this. This exercise of gazing in the mirror and studying your reflection is familiar to me. This wondering, “What do others see? Am I beautiful?”

I want to disrupt the moment. I want to distract her and answer the question she’s not asking. I want to cut through all the noise in her head and in the world that tells her otherwise and exclaim once and for all: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE PERFECT!

People tell Mary that she’s beautiful all the time. Of course she hears it from us, her family, but strangers tell her as well. People regularly stop me to compliment her hair. Once my neighbor trekked across the lawn to tell Tom how beautiful and well-dressed she always is. Then, an hour later, he walked outside and into my front yard to tell me the same thing.

Mary is beautiful, that’s not up for debate. The real question (the question behind the question) is, “Am I enough?”

I want to save her from this unnecessary rite of passage that plagues girls, this awful habit of believing what society screams — that your worth as a female, as a human, is wrapped up in what you look like.

I am her mother. When she was born I spent hours staring at her face, stroking her temples, inhaling her scent. And so, because of that, because I know her better than anyone, my opinion doesn’t matter. It is up to Mary to blaze this trail for herself, to believe that she matters not because she is beautiful, but because she is a child of God, made perfectly in His image to reflect His goodness and glory.

When someone compliments her, I always agree. Yes, she is beautiful, and she is smart. Yes, she is beautiful, and she is kind. Yes, she is beautiful, and she is a good friend.

I will say it over and over, I will never tire of reminding her. This is a meandering path she has to walk on her own, but I will never tire of leaving guideposts. These questions are big, complicated, nebulous, and life-long. My prayer is that she won’t look to the mirror for answers, but will turn to the Truth that is secure, and does is not dependent on her reflection or the opinion of others.

Mary catches me watching her look at herself in the mirror, and I can tell she’s a little embarrassed. “Makeup is fun, isn’t it?” I ask her. She nods. “I love spending this time with you.”

Mary is kind, smart, creative, sensitive, and a wonderful friend. She cannot hide her beauty, which bursts out of her in all the colors of joy, happiness, disappointment, frustration, confidence, fear, determination, and love. Because of these things, because of the infinitely unique way God knit her heart and curled her hair, she is beautiful.


Note: Mary chose all the photos for this post, her favorites of herself in the past year.



  1. Gayle Ann May 28, 2019

    She is lucky to have you. Each year at the pool, I watch the girls, who are too young to have a job and purchase their own clothing. And, I think, “You actually bought that suit for your daughter?” And, I look at the high school girls, who are there with their mothers, and I think “You are letting her wear that?”

    I cannot figure out why mothers are teaching their daughters that the first impression people have of them is entirely related to their body, not to mention using it to attract attention. I always wonder why they think so little of their daughters, which is how it seems to me… that their daughters have no talents, skills, or inner beauty, and thus, depend on their looks for affirmation.

    The mothers of the younger girls must never watch them. Kids going to a waterpark, with no bust development, shouldn’t be dressed in a bikini, even if it is modest. They hold the top in place as they rush down the slide, and they hold it in place as they jump in the deep end.

    A few years ago, we stood in line to have our IDs swiped, and there was a little girl around 3, toddeling, but no swim diaper, in a THONG bikini. Honest to God. My husband and I just looked at each other. I didn’t even know they made them for children. It was a HOT day, and sitting on the concrete had to be uncomfortable due to the heat and rough texture. WHO in their right mind would think a thong is appropriate for a child a hop away from being an infant?

    Sadly, studies still show that same sex education benefits girls tremendously because they have no inhibitions about overshadowing boys. Although, that situation may start to change since more girls than boys are attending college.

    Our culture makes growing up and adolescence so difficult and awkward. There just has to be a better way to strengthen their self confidence and lessen dependence on the praise of other people, particularly men.

    PS I find it a great mystery that as the girls, who have more to cover, have suits with less and less material, the boys’ suits are getting longer and longer, and have more material than the girls suits.

  2. Abby May 29, 2019

    This is so sweet. Echoes a lot of my thoughts and prayers about my baby’s source of strength. Praying our children know and remember Who to look to!

  3. Sherry May 30, 2019

    I love watching little ones admire themselves in the mirror! I’ve seen the changes over time as to how my kids view their reflection and certainly have critiqued how I was viewing myself as well. When I’ve been harder on my own reflection, they mirrored that self-criticism. When I’m kinder to myself, they are also kinder to themselves. Great post! 🙂

  4. Megan May 31, 2019

    I love this! It’s so sweet. She certainly is beautiful and is SO photogenic. That hair is to die for <3
    It’s so important that parents instill these positive thoughts in kids when they are young. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Annie May 31, 2019

    I started doing affirmations with our 2 girls under 2 while I am changing them: I am love, I am loved, I am loving. I am safe, I am protected. I am peaceful. I am surrounded by peace. I am kind. I am a good friend. I am beautiful. I am creative. I am smart. I am worthy. I am enough.

    I try to say these things outloud to them at least once a day, and I so hope they are sinking in and that they will be able to one day say them with me and without me. I started doing them out of the need to share that they are enough. I need them to know that. Your post has so many of our daily affirmations in it <3

  6. What a great job you are doing – it’s so important to tell our daughters that looks really are not everything and do not affect their value.

  7. Kasey Ma May 31, 2019

    I remember I would always hear my parents tell me, “Just wait until you have your own child and you’ll see how much they resemble you”. Your daughter is adorable and she’s lucky to have a mom like you!

  8. Beautiful tribute to your daughter, and a good reminder to everyone with daughter’s to remind them how naturally beautiful they are.

  9. Mama Munchkin June 2, 2019

    What a sweet post and thoughtful dedication to your daughter. You are an amazing mom!


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