My daughter smiles when she looks in the mirror…for now.

 In appearances, Image, LMKTM

IMG_3132Whether it’s her handheld Disney princess mirror, a “selfie mode” iPhone screen, or really just any reflective surface she passes, my 15 month old daughter Ella smiles and lights up each time she sees her own reflection. Sometimes she’ll even give an extra “Ooooh” if she’s feeling particularly spiffy that day.

I love watching her reactions to seeing her face. It cracks me up to imagine that she is just tickled and enamored of herself. She is positively delighted when she sees her reflection and I love that so much. And yet, at the same time, a sober fear often invades those moments as I think of myself now and my own reaction to seeing myself in the mirror.

It seems more and more that when I look at myself in the mirror, I zero in on my flaws immediately. I obsess about that wrinkle that wasn’t there before or how my cheeks look wider. I have become more and more critical of myself in pictures the older I’ve gotten. I may or may not have been known to demand my husband give me first photo veto privileges before he posts anything that includes my face.

What happened? I was once a little girl who delighted in my image like Ella does now, blissfully unaware of flaws. Is there a way for me to go back and enjoy my reflection like that again? Scarier still, is there a way to preserve that simple bliss that my daughter finds in herself before the pressures and expectations of society make her feel anything but delighted in her own face?

For starters, I want to make sure that my daughter is brought up in an encouraging environment where she is surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance. I want her to not only know that she is beautiful, but to know that she has worth far beyond what the mirror can show.

As I endeavor to instill this in my daughter, I want it to serve as a reminder to me, as well. Time will mark us and change us, but our value only increases as we grow in wisdom and grace. I want to be more like Ella and still find delight in looking at myself, because even if the picture is different than it used to be, I’m still delightful in that my God delights in me. That’s enough to make me smile each time I see myself, don’t you think?

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