“I’m Not Pretty Enough” Violet Age 3

The four words that broke my heart and all too soon, I might add. My 3 year and 5 month old daughter watched as I put on my make-up yesterday morning before work and as usual wanted to experiment with a little of it on her own face. I usually give her a soft powder brush that I have never used in make-up before. Yesterday however, she was very aware that there was nothing on her brush or in the cap she was using to dab her brush in. So I gave her a tiny bit of transparent Bare Essentials powder to play with.

I wear make-up every day and I usually put it on when she is not in the room but sometimes she sneaks in and wants to be like mommy and pretend with it. For the most part, I only wear powder, concealer and mascara. The times I have the most trouble keeping her out of my make-up are when I wear eyeshadow. I don’t usually wear it but for special occasions I dab a little on. Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony of one of my schools and so I was dressed up. I wore a dress and tights (I usually wear pants) and Violet was thrilled to see me in my dress. My daughter wears a dress or a skirt every day, not because I make her but because she loves to wear them. She insists on it actually.

As I was putting on my make-up she came in the room and asked if she could put some on too. She quickly hurried off to get her stool so she could see the mirror and reach my make-up bag. She said, “I want to look pretty too, Mama.” I told her, “You are already pretty sweetheart. Make-up doesn’t make us pretty, it is just fun to wear. Mommy, just wears it for fun.” She asked again. Finally, I relented and gave her the powder brush and empty lid to pretend with.

She wanted the eyeshadow though. I tried to distract her with the softness of the brush and then put a tiny bit of the transparent powder in the lid. But she really wanted the colorful eyeshadow, and why wouldn’t she? It’s sparkly, and full of bright colors like her paint box. I told her she could have the powder then she looked up at me and uttered those four words I was dreading to hear, “But I am not pretty enough!” My husband and I both shared a heartbreaking glance and I tried my best to think of what to say next. I went over to her and hugged her and told her that she was beautiful and my husband came and told her that mommy was beautiful with out makeup too. I didn’t know what else to say.

How did this happen already? How did my sweet little baby come up with the idea that she is not pretty enough in her own skin? We don’t allow her to watch princess movies or even read the books. And she doesn’t play with Barbies. Was it all from just watching me? What could I do to change her mind on this? Is it too late?

Last night, as I showered and got ready for bed my mind still couldn’t stop thinking of what had happened that morning. I wondered about how long it had been since I felt comfortable in my own skin and confident enough to leave my house without wearing at least powder. I can’t remember.

From the time I was at least 14, I felt the need to have make-up on my face to be considered acceptable for public appearances. I remember begging my mother to let me start to wear make-up when I was in the 6th grade and her trying to convince me that I didn’t need it. She finally allowed me to wear blush and pale lip gloss to my first boy girl dance that year. After that came a nude lipstick and clear mascara. By the 8th grade I was wearing it all, from foundation to blue eyeliner and bright lipstick.

I loved my make-up and feeling like a grown up as I painted my face each day. I felt prettier. I felt more confident and more noticeable. Where did I learn this from? Probably from my peers, books, magazine and TV.

My mom was a beautiful woman and I can remember thinking, I can’t wait to be old enough to not worry about imperfections (pimples) that I needed to cover up. My mom had such beautiful skin and she did leave the house without makeup sometimes. I often thought she was one of those people lucky enough to not need make-up. I, on the other hand, am not one of those people. I have breakouts (still do at almost 35) and fever blisters on occasion. I have an uneven skin tone and small eyes. All of these features on my face that were created to be just as they are make me feel insecure and less beautiful. So I have worn make-up to “better myself” on a daily basis since I was a young teen waiting for the day when I wouldn’t need it anymore.

Last night I remembered a girl in college who gave up wearing make-up for Lent to remind herself to not focus on external beauty. At the time I thought, “She can do that because she has perfect skin. I could never do that.” She did have beautiful skin but I am sure she felt insecure about certain things just like the rest of us. It made an impression on me but didn’t cause me to take any action toward changing the way I felt about myself.

As I continued to think about her and then think about my precious and beautiful daughter I realized that the best way to show Violet that she doesn’t need make-up to be beautiful was for me to feel that way about myself. I needed to feel pretty in my own skin to be an example for her. I am not saying that moms need to eschew make-up permanently or that I am a bad mom for wanting to wear it. Because, although I do wear it to improve the way I look, I also really do still love to play with it. What I realized was that I needed to find a balance and that I needed to make sure that she sees me leaving the house and being around other people without it and still feel confident in myself.

So, this morning I took the plunge. I made the decision when I woke up that I would not wear make-up to work today. I showered and styled my hair as usual and then got dressed for the day. When my daughter came in the room I knelt down beside her and asked her to look at mama’s face. She touched my skin and said, “your boo boos (pimples) are all better mama!!” I smiled, knowing that the scars from my last breakout were still visible to me but to her they looked all better. She rubbed my skin and I told her, “mommy is not going to wear make-up to work today. I am pretty enough without it.” She smiled and took my hand.

I want my daughter to feel beautiful everyday. I want her to see the beauty in other people. I want her to see that prettiness is only skin deep but true beauty shines from our souls.

I love that she thinks I am beautiful just as I am. To her, I am perfect. There isn’t a thing about my body that she would change. From my soft arms to my fluffy bum. She loves me. I want to love myself that way too because I want her to love herself in that way.

Yesterday, I wore a short sleeved dress but put a sweater on top. She begged me to take it off. I did for just a moment and she shouted with the purest joy “Mama, I can see your beautiful arms! You are so beautiful!” I believe her when she tells me I am beautiful and I want her to believe me when I tell her she is beautiful too.

Today, I feel a little nervous without my make-up to hide behind but I am trying to make myself make eye contact with people and to smile. It is a start right? I am pretty enough. I am beautiful enough. I am who I am and I hope that I can be confident in that not just for my daughter, but for myself too.

Who will join me in this journey? Let your daughters and any other young women in your life know that they ARE pretty enough. Let yourself know that you are pretty enough.

This is me without makeup today. Join me on facebook or here in the comments and post your beautiful picture without make-up.

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29 thoughts on ““I’m Not Pretty Enough” Violet Age 3

  1. I haven’t worn makeup for years, and when I did (for about 5 years), it was only eyeshadow and mascara. Still, my 17 year old wears it religiously, even though she is ridiculously beautiful. I hope my 17 month old learns to love the skin she is in… Now I just have to remember to stop saying, “You found Mommy’s fat belly” when she lifts up my shirt to find my belly button. I love your blog, by the way!

  2. Pingback: Loving Myself without Make Up For My Children

  3. Love this post. You are an awesome mum! Isn’t it amazing how, in teaching our children, we learn so much ourselves.
    I used to be like you. The thought of leaving the house without make-up made me cringe. But I haven’t worn make-up on a daily basis for years. I live in the sub-tropics and it is just too humid in summer to wear it. Plus, I have a wonderful husband who has been telling me for over a decade that I don’t need it. Not that I agree. I feel sort-of washed-out without it. But it makes me feel ok to go bare-faced. I still love wearing make-up. But it’s not a daily thing and it’s not a necessity to me anymore.
    But I still often wish everybody – me included – could see me through my children’s eyes. They tell me regularly that I look beautiful. And I totally believe that that is what they see. They still see the big bum and wobbly belly. But to them that does not take away from the beauty they see.

    • Thank you so much Alex! Your words are so true. I wish that everybody could see me through my child’s eyes too. I feel encouraged to keep trying to get to the place where you are and hopefully not feel the need to wear make-up every day anymore. I too have a very kind husband who loves my face without it and tells me that I am beautiful. Now I just have to believe the words in my heart. ❤ Peace and blessings to you and yours!

  4. i feel like i was reading my mind. this exact scenario has happened alot. My 3.5 year old has told me she doesn’t feel pretty enough and it breaks my heart. I don’t wear much makeup, but i do take about 3 minutes to apply it for work. I am going to do this and tell her i will go to work without makeup becuae i am pretty enough without it. it breaks my heart if she is getting this from me becuase she does think i am the best and most beautiful person in the world. she tells me this every day and i in turn tell her she is as well. Thank you for this.

    • Thank you, Tara! I am encouraged by your comments. I know we can do this! Your makeup application sounds a lot like mine. About 3 min. before work. 🙂
      Each day that I go without, I am feeling more confident. I wish you all the best! Your daughter is so lucky to have a mom like you!

  5. I am SOOO joining you on this journey!!! Thank you so much for such an inspiring post!! My baby girl is 20 months old, and I’ve so far kept her from princess-y things, tutus, pretend makeup, etc. Reading this reminded me that she has already started grabbing my chapstick to pretend to put it on her lips – it’s not tinted or anything, just regular Burts Bees. But still – I grew up thinking I was ugly, ugly, ugly, and I would do absolutely ANYTHING in this world to keep my sweet, beautiful girl from feeling like she ever needs to utter those words!!! Bye-bye makeup! 🙂

    • Julie, thank you so much for reading and for your comment. I am with you, I would do anything to keep my daughter from thinking she is ugly. You are a great mommy and your daughter is so blessed to have you. I love your courageous spirit! All the best to you and yours!

  6. I too, ,love my makeup (I am a makeup artist by trade!) but one day, while holding my then 6 month old son, I noticed his cheek was glittery. It was my bronzer-from snuggling him I had gotten it all over his face. He looked so ridiculous and I thought “Is that what he thinks when he looks at me-Mama looks so silly with that stuff on her face!” Now, with his 2nd birthday on Monday, I am happy to report that I only where makeup on the rare date night. And good thing-with the amount of kisses I get daily from my boy it would be ruined anyway 🙂 Great post-and Violet is right-you are beautiful…

    • Thank you so much Lindsay! And how wonderful that you are showing your son what true beauty is! It must have been hard as a makeup artist to let go of the makeup. I worked in cosmetics after college and I loved it. I loved reading books on makeup application and experimenting with different looks. Like I said in my post, I really do love to play with it. I hope that I can be an example of balance to my daughter and that it can be fun but not necessary. Thanks for the kind compliment and for reading and sharing here. All the best to you and yours!

  7. I’m one of those people who rarely wear makeup. And when I say rarely, I mean it. When my husband and I got married I stood in front of the mirror and said to myself “Should I put on some makeup? Oh what the heck, it’s a special occasion.”
    But I used to wear it back when I was young, way too much, as so many girls do. I just got lazy and preferred the extra 10 minutes of sleep and stopped.
    I say all this to point out one thing. Okay, 2 things. No, 3. First, I still have it in the medicine cabinet and put it on maybe once a year. My daughter has caught me doing it occasionally and I show her some powder and such, and we have fun with it, but she knows I don’t feel like I need it.
    Secondly, after 15-20 years without wearing it, when I do wear it I feel very self conscious. It feels heavy and I feel like everyone is looking at me like I’m a drag queen.
    Third, my husband loves that I don’t wear it, after his ex wife spent loads of time and money on makeup. And this from a woman who’s face is covered in freckles!

    With all that long windedness in mind, I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I totally get why you felt crushed when your daughter said that. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad role model for her. Watch any episode of Toddlers and Tiaras and you’ll see what a bad role model as far as teaching girls about positive self image and inner beauty is.
    And lastly, you look great without make up! Give yourself a chance to get used to seeing yourself without it. If you do it long enough, you’ll get used to it. You may even learn to love it!

    • Thank you so much Melissa! Your words are such a comfort and fill me with hope that I can get there one day. I am taking it a day at a time. Thank you for your sweet compliment too. All the best to you and your family! They are luck to have you as their mama!

  8. I loved reading this…. I have 2 girls and the eldest of the 2 (3years) has just started asking to wear my make up. It breaks my heart. Although just lately i have been having make up free days…. I just need to build on my confidence 😊

  9. A beautiful story from a beautiful person. I have 2 sons. My oldest is nearly 3 and my youngest is 14 months. In high school, I used to spend an hour a day putting on makeup and doing my hair because that is what my mother did and taught me to do from the time I was 12. Personally it always made me feel like I was wearing a mask and no one ever saw the real me, but my mother did it and so did all my friends. I had horrible acne too and thought I needed to cover it up. After high school I let my hair grow to all one length to make it easy to style and started wearing less and less makeup. By the time I was 20 I only wore makeup on special occasions. Strangely enough I found that the only time my skin would break out was after I wore makeup. I am 40 now and I can count on one hand the amount of times my husband has seen me with any makeup on and still have fingers left over. I no longer wear it even on special occasions because I determined that the chemicals in my hair and skin care products was one of the things that gives me horrible migraines. My husband met me and fell in love with me without makeup. He has never made me feel like I needed to wear it. Your story about your daughter is inspiring and I hope to raise my sons to see that true beauty is within a persons heart. Makeup does not make up the person and is not necessary for any woman to be beautiful. Best wishes to you and your family.

  10. I love how many mothers your post has touched. I suppose my little three year old has been watching me put on my make-up for years now and now my new one, who is just a year and half, is captivated by the few minutes of mirror time I spend on days we need to leave the house. I’ve caught my three year making a mess with it, covering her face a couple times. I always told her she didn’t need it, just like my mother told me. And my little one always likes to run off and play with my make-up bag. It was a ritual I remember loving as a little girl, watching my mother put make-up on, and waiting for, dreaming of the day when I could wear it too, so I know how she feels. I use it now because I too have pimples (at nearly 30) and being fair skinned and sort of blond, my lashes are too light for my taste and I’ve grown accustomed to having bolder eyes. I wonder what my mother thought her flaws were. I thought she was gorgeous too.

    It is shame that we have a hard time accepting our own natural selves when we think our little girls are the most beautiful creatures in the world just as they are. We shave, buff, polish, cover up, tighten, lift, boost…why? We accept our men as they are and we love how they look.

    • Thanks for reading Paala. I loved watching my mom put on her makeup too and I loved playing with it as a little girl. Having children really does cause us to look more deeply into our hearts and minds. I hope that I can see myself through my daughter’s eyes one day and I hope when she is older she sees herself through my eyes, as perfect and beautiful just the way she is.

  11. In my late teens I would rather have died than be seen without full war paint. As I grew older though, I began to wear less and less – and noticed that I had far fewer breakouts when my pores weren’t clogged with the cement that was foundation back then.

    The last time I wore full make up was for my wedding last year. If I look a little tired I’ll wear a subtle eyeshadow and mascara to brighten my eyes behind my glasses, and a slick of pale lipstick. Mostly I don’t bother.

  12. I came across your post through a link from an article. It almost made me cry as I see so much of myself in what you have written. It hit home today – my 7 yr old received a gift voucher for her birthday to be spent in Claire’s Accessories here in the UK. It has all sort of hairbands, necklaces, sunglasses etc… but she spent the half an hour we were in there coveting the make up.We would only allow her lip gloss; she wanted eyeshadow. The upshot was, despite my calm and (what I thought) reasonable manner, she left the shop refusing to buy anything because we wouldn’t let her get what she wanted. I wear make up every day, her grandma constantly talks about nails being ‘pretty’ and – to my absolute horror – she was invited to a beauty salon party for one of her friend’s recent birthdays. Now that was a dilemma! She has already been conditioned to think she’s not good enough as she is. She told me the other day that she thinks she’s too fat (she’s not!) but, again, grandma and grandad are permanently on a diet – I really need to have another word with them! But she get’s messages from everywhere about what women should look like and what it means to be accepted.

    Your post has inspired me to actually do what I should have done a long time ago. Stop wearing the blasted stuff. I too cannot remember a time when I was comfortable without it. Maybe the age of ten? I think it was when I started getting pimples that I started trowelling the stuff on. There are no other role models out there to show my daughter to be comfortable in her own skin. It has to be me.

    So, it’s Sunday night here in the UK. I cannot express my gratitude at having come across your post. Once today’s slap comes off in the shower tonight, I will be wearing none tomorrow. Thank you.

    • wow Kim! Thanks so much for your heartfelt comment. I truly appreciate you sharing your story here in the comments. I know it is only going to get more difficult as my daughter matures to instill a healthy self image because of all the images we are surrounded with. I can only hope that my attempts to model a healthy self image of myself will help her to have one too. Way to go for taking the leap! Let your natural beauty shine! All the best, Steph

  13. I agree with feeling comfortable in your own skin and wanting to show your daughter that she doesn’t “need” anything more to be beautiful, but what about us who ENJOY wearing makeup? I don’t put it on everyday Andean many times I’ve gone out in public with a bare face, but I really do love playingn wit make up, different colors here and there. My daughter is 4, she’s watched all of the Princess movies anjd has watched me put on makeup many times, yet her favorite color is blue and she wants to play soccer. She doesn’t ask me for my makeup or why I wear it. It’s great that you want to set such a good example for your daughter, but it’s also not a bad thing if she wants to wear makeup!

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