Ashlee Simpson and Me

August 11, 2006

Today, the universe told me this: Ashlee Simpson got a nose-job.

More specifically, Ashlee Simpson went on record in Marie-Claire magazine as supporting quote-unquote real beauty and said things to the effect of “everyone is made differently and that’s what makes us beautiful and unique” and helped some inner-city teenage girls make a mural celebrating real beauty while pumping her fists in the air and hollering “what tough mother-fucking bitches we are!” and just generally getting all hopped up on girl power – and then trotted off and had her nose done.

And, consequently, brought something of a shit-storm down upon her surgically-altered head.

Bear with me.

The shit-storm came in the form of, reportedly, some thousand outraged readers of Marie-Claire, who opened their ‘real beauty’ issues of the mag after Ms. Simpson the Younger revealed her new, better, altered face. Such was the shit-storm that the new editor of Marie-Claire (who was not editorially responsible for the Simpson spread) allowed extra space in the latest edition of the mag for reader letters addressing that matter and stated, on behalf of the magazine, that “we’re dazed and confused – and disappointed – by her choice too!”

I’m not going to address questions concerning the hypocrisy of a fashion magazine – no matter how “progressive” that mag – criticizing a celebrity for fiddling with her appearance. Whatever. Marie-Claire has sniffed the armpit of the girl-power market and is going after it. Great. Better than going after the aspiring Pussycat Doll market. But still. It’s a fashion magazine. It sells Maybelline (maybe she’s born with it… maybe not!)

I don’t care all that much about whether fashion magazines grow social consciences. I don’t read them for their social conscience (in fact, I’d say that the more socially pious such a magazine gets, the less likely I’d be to read it.)

What I do care about: asking to what extent beauty is socially constructed and figuring out how to shield my daughter from the more pernicious aspects of that social construction. No, I’m not going to do that math here. (Yes, I felt that massive, collective sigh of virtual relief.) What I need to do here is figure out why and how such ideas about beauty matter to me. Figure out why that Ashlee Simpson story hit me in the gut.

To that end… onward to the cliffs of HBM’s psyche!

(Deep breath.)

I have always hated my nose. In sixth grade, some ass named Donald nicknamed me ‘Big Nose’ and it stuck. That nickname had run its course by the time I entered seventh grade, but still, that year of rhino-mockery stayed with me. For years I did everything that I could to avoid being seen in profile: my hands fluttered constantly near my face, and I was ever pulling my hair down over my cheeks as a veil.

I hated how I looked. Hated it. I would have sold my soul, in some painful, angst-ridden moments, to change my nose. To my young, insecure mind, if my nose were smaller, everything would fall into place. My face would be a face, not just landscape surrounding a nose. My face would be a face. Maybe, it would be pretty.

As I got older, I relaxed a little about my nose. Sometimes, when I was feeling dramatic and confident and having a Diana Vreeland moment, I even liked it. But mostly not. Mostly, I thought, I’m smart and funny and maybe sort of pretty, or at least, I might be sorta pretty, if it weren’t for the nose…

And then I’d beat myself up a little for obsessing about my nose. Because, you know, cool girls don’t do that. Cool girls don’t care. Cool girls are proud to be all jolie laide, yearn to emulate Charlotte Gainsbourg, take to heart Marcel Proust’s dictum that pretty women should be left to men without imagination.

Cool girls don’t care about tiny little cheerleader noses. Cool girls don’t care. It’s not cool, it’s not progressive, it’s not bad-ass to care.

But I did. I cared.

I get why Ashlee Simpson cared.

But I wish that she didn’t. I really, really wish that I hadn’t. That I wouldn’t now, ever. And I wish, more than anything, that my daughter will never. Care about her looks, her face, her nose.

I wish this more than anything. That she not be Ashlee Simpson (on so many levels, but for now, let’s focus on this one.) And that, in this singular respect, she not be like me. That she not care.

I have two conflicting dreams for my daughter. In one, she inherits most of her looks from her father, who is smashing handsome with a fine straight nose and who is blessed, along with rest of his family, with some serious Dorian Gray reverse-aging genes. In this dream, she never has to give her looks a second thought. In this dream, she never wonders whether or not she is pretty because she is never plagued by the concern that she is ugly. She will be blessed with the luxury of having no need of concern over her looks. She will not have reason to care.

In the other dream – the more powerful dream, the better dream – she inherits my looks, the good and the bad. In this dream, she has my eyes (as she already does) and my nose and my smile and they become her own, completely her own. And she loves her looks. In this dream, she recognizes, early and for always, that she has a beautiful mind and a beautiful heart and a beautiful character and a beautiful soul, and that this beauty radiates from beautiful eyes set within a masterpiece of a face. Her face, her beautiful, unique jolie jolie face. She will care – but she will care well. She will care for herself, her self.

In this dream, it won’t matter what the Ashlee Simpsons of the world do or do not do about their magazine-cover faces. It won’t matter whether or not magazines or soap companies launch campaigns for ‘real beauty.’ Because in this dream, speaking about ‘real beauty’ will mean speaking in redundancies. She’ll be perfectly content, happy, to be real, beautifully real.

This is my wish for her, my dream. I’ll do everything in my power to make it real.

I’ll begin by loving my own beauty.

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    lynsalyns August 12, 2006 at 1:00 am

    And beautiful, you are, indeed.

    This post really speaks to me. I lost all my hair two years ago and I defined my looks by my locks. I had to work hard to find beauty in that bald reflection.

    I know of what you speak.

    leahpeah August 12, 2006 at 2:16 am

    brava. lovely.

    L. August 12, 2006 at 3:08 am

    Is that you?
    Where`s the nose?
    Seriously — it`s not even big.

    (You want to see BIG, I should post a photo of my “chipmunk cheeks…, with extra nuts.”)

    Mommy off the Record August 12, 2006 at 3:16 am

    You ARE beautiful. That is a great picture.

    I can relate because I have a huge nose with a big bulbous thing on the end of it. I also got made fun of and I also thought that if I could just have a new nose I’d be “pretty”. I’m still very self-conscious about it and only take good pictures if the angle is “just right”. It sucks.

    But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that physical beauty isn’t what it’s all about. Someone can be physically beautiful but an ugly person and vice versa.

    I think that Ashlee’s old nose gave her face character. Now she looks very cookie-cutter. I guess that’s what she was going for. It’s just sad that she felt that she had to look like everyone else instead of who she is.

    I think your daughter will greatly benefit from your approach to this topic–whether she gets your nose or not.

    h&b August 12, 2006 at 4:18 am

    What a beautiful photo – where is the Cyrano de Bergerac ??

    Donald just had problems because he had issues with HIS nose probably ( and he was named Donald, which really sucked )

    A fat boy called Liam teased me about being fat in Yr 8. Does that make me feel better ? Um, no, this was over 20yrs ago and i’m relaying it here, in someone else’s blogger. Yeah, it still hurts, and I lost the weight already..

    Your nose is lovely, and you hooked some spunky Adonis who liked you enough to breed with you ;)

    Donald probably sacks groceries and hits on married mommies, failing every time :)

    metro mama August 12, 2006 at 7:29 am

    You’re even more beautiful in person.

    Ruth Dynamite August 12, 2006 at 7:55 am

    In tenth grade I intercepted a basketball chest pass with my face. I broke my nose, but didn’t realize it until a year later when my pediatrician said, “What the heck happened here?” Oh – guess I didn’t really notice.

    And that’s thing. My nose is still crooked from that basketball, but honestly, I don’t notice it. (I notice the bags under my eyes, and the emerging crow’s feet.)

    I think Ashlee Simpson’s mistake was not in getting the nose job (etc.), but in not being open about it. And you? What nose?

    Jezer August 12, 2006 at 8:13 am

    What a fortunate daughter she is.

    What a loving, lovely, and beautiful–on the inside and out–mother you are.

    Laural Dawn August 12, 2006 at 8:19 am

    As someone who struggled with the “fat” label since childhood I totally hear you! At 28 I’m still struggling with that – beauty tied into the scale, trying to like myself, etc.
    I have sworn not to pass that on to my child.
    I don’t know how to teach your child he/she is beautiful – despite the comments. I guess you show them it comes from within, and do whatever you can to make them like themself. It’s our constant conversation at home. I just don’t know.
    But, (as horrible as this sounds) I totally followed the whole Marie Claire thing, I strongly feel is was Ashlee’s decision, and I actually think it makes her look good. I think it was probably her “thing” and I have to admit that if I had the $$ to fix my “thing” (i.e. weight) I’d be all over it.

    bubandpie August 12, 2006 at 8:30 am

    As someone who has seen your nose IN REAL LIFE, I’ll comment on my thought-process as I read this post…

    Stage 1: (scratches head in puzzlement): Why does HBM care about Ashlee Simpson?

    Stage 2: (reaches bit about hating nose): What? Huh? (tries to remember nose – cannot recall anything except vivid blue eyes, animated expression, and frightening intelligence)

    Stage 3: decides that “Ohhhh, this is the post where HBM admits that she got a nose job!”

    Stage 4: ?????

    sunshine scribe August 12, 2006 at 8:32 am

    I am with Bub & Pie in that I had to stop during this post to think hard about your nose. Because I could only remember everything else about your gorgeous-ness.

    I love this post and your dream for Emilia. We all have our thing. That body part or two that some insensitive 12 year old teased us about and that we can’t let go. You couldn’t be more right that loving your own beauty is one of the best things you can do to help Emilia love hers.

    We love ya both!

    Mother Bumper August 12, 2006 at 8:33 am

    Your nose? Really? I would have never… but I TOO understand. I was told I was ugly by many so often that I believed it. Only recently did I realize it wasn’t true. I’m serious. When I read this post I remember that day: I was 14 and so insecure, I’m surprized I could walk the earth without a seatbelt holding me on the planet. I ran out to meet the girls, sans bonnebell lipbalm and princess pink blush, and the head girl announced “damn you’re ugly without make-up” and it hit me like a punch in a gut. And stuck with me for YEARS. I obsessed. I withered my beauty both outside and in. But now I know better and thank goodness it’s in time to share it with Bumper. But I’m getting off track…

    You are g*d* gorgeous and I know that’s not why you did this post but I still had to tell ya. You give off beautiful vibes that do not need a picture to remind me or the world. Oh my, I could comment for days on this one…

    Our ladies will be handed the best foundation and let’s hope their momma’s can help build that teflon layer needed to protect us from the Donald’s who need to insult in order to make themselves feel good.

    I get Ashlee’s nosejob, Jennifer Grey’s nosejob, all those lip jobs to look like Angelina by countless starlets but it doesn’t make it right. I can’t preach. I worship at the alter of Sephora and Spanx only sometimes because I can’t afford the surgeons. Who hasn’t played the game “what would I have done if I won the lottery?”.

    Amen and another FREAKIN’ fantastic post.

    Mother August 12, 2006 at 8:44 am

    I imagine everyone has a little something they’d like to fix – even if most people wouldn’t even notice.

    My ears stick out so far I fear they can catch signals from the satellites on Mars. I hated them for many a year.

    And the forehead birthmark – loathed that one too.

    But then (I forget when) I realized that they were a part of me and I wasn’t gutsy enough to change them – so I had better just deal with it.

    Loving yourself is the best gift you can give your daughter. I try to watch what I say about my own body image.

    I think what’s sad about Ashlee is that while she may have hated her nose – being in the public spotlight didn’t let her make the changes that she wanted in a private forum. It was like when Jennifer Grey (dirty dancing) got a nose job – whole different person?!

    And seriously, it makes her look like a freak now because now Jessica’s nose looks gihugic.

    Mocha August 12, 2006 at 8:44 am

    I wish all those things, too, for the people who’ve come from me for when they dislike who they are they are disliking me as well. It’s a none too happy place to be (discontent with your looks) but a place we all end up. How do we get here? Who packed our bags and sent us on our way?

    You have a great journey and your daughter has a nice one in store. May it be one of content. When content is a good thing.

    Beanie Baby August 12, 2006 at 9:11 am

    “In this dream, she never has to give her looks a second thought. In this dream, she never wonders whether or not she is pretty because she is never plagued by the concern that she is ugly. She will be blessed with the luxury of having no need of concern over her looks.”

    I don’t think that ever happens. Ever. Even for the beautiful girls. Maybe especially for the beautiful girls. Beautiful girls are so rigorously policed–what they wear, how they wear their hair, how much makeup they use, how short their skirts are, how many people they’ve slept with, how soon, doing what–you don’t want that for her.

    That whole beauty=happiness thing is just an advertising gimmick.

    I feel a post brewing….

    Her Bad Mother August 12, 2006 at 9:32 am

    Just to be clear – I’m well aware that my nose isn’t terrible. My dissertation supervisor was fond of calling it ‘Norman’ (as in, the Normans, not a pet name.) Part of my point was that it doesn’t take much to fuel a negative self-image in our society – and that there is such pressure to be quote-unquote pretty, that one can easily overlook character…

    Hence my second, more desirable ‘dream’ for my daughter – that she love her looks, no matter what they are. That she have character in spirit and visage, and that she love that about herself. That she come to that love much earlier than I did.

    But I’d like to venture the following, for better or for worse (and this should probably be a whole ‘nother post) – that children have an easier time of it when they are attractive. I had a good few years of being teased for my appearance in grade school (the nose was just one instance – I was teased for height and skinnyness and unruly hair and big ears) that I would not wish on anyone. This is where I get selfish and superficial – it will break my heart if WB has to go through that. I wish that she does NOT have her character built that way.

    mothergoosemouse August 12, 2006 at 9:33 am

    First – HBM, your nose is NOT big. You are strikingly beautiful, inside and out. And MOTR, WTF are you talking about? I do NOT remember a big nose – I remember everything about you being adorably petite. Finally, Mother – your EARS? Huh? And I think the birthmark is delicately beautiful.

    Looks like I’m not particularly observant, or else my wonderful friends are WAY too hard on themselves. Pretty sure it’s the latter.

    Anyway. HBM, I too wish for the second dream. That my girls grow to love themselves and care for themselves as beautiful women independent of the ever-changing standards of beauty set by society.

    mamatulip August 12, 2006 at 9:36 am

    My best friend hates her nose. She wants to get a nose job and I think, some day, she will.

    I love her nose. She’s got very, very unique features and her nose only adds to that. When she first told me she wanted to get a nose job I was shocked. I couldn’t see how *she* couldn’t see how beautiful her nose was. But if that’s what she wants to do, I say more power to her. You know?

    You are beautiful and your nose is beautiful. And I have no doubt that Wonder Baby will learn from you how to embrace her own beauty.

    Veronica Mitchell August 12, 2006 at 9:41 am

    I clicked the “post a comment” button, and instead of the knee-jerk responses of women to other women that we learn in jr high, I find a host of thoughtful responses to the real issues you discuss. And I think, dear, that is your real beauty: the talent you have for pulling from other women’s souls the real thoughts and feelings about the things that matter.

    My own history with these issues is the dreadfully cliched one of eating disorders and the misery of compulsive behaviors with food. The joyful year of my life when I slowly realized that I was not merely loved, but worthy of love, stays in my head for me to draw on whenever the old self-destructive itch acts up. I fear my daughters will go through the same thing, but I hope, like me, they will be survivors, with the wisdom and compassion survival brings. This is my fervent prayer.

    lynsalyns August 12, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Double-dipping, here, but HBM, I agree with you that attractive kids have an easier time. Before Emmie was born we debated pretty vs. smart and decided if she had to be one or the other rather than both, we chose pretty. Because let’s face it, pretty people have an easier road to hoe.

    Don’t hate me for saying it. I hesitate to voice that opinion, but being in the “moderately attractive and smart” category, I feel this is, sadly, true.

    By the way, wonderbaby is beautiful and smart. I can tell.

    Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual August 12, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    When we found out we were pregnant with a girl, I was devestated. (Ah, hormones!) But in all sincerity, one of the most disconcerting thoughts I had, and still have, is related to the “beauty pressure” aspect of raising girls.

    I was a late bloomer, not one of the “pretty girls,” but one of the “smart girls.” In my day, you were either pretty and popular or you were smart and plain. I never knew the two could be combined until I was much older and more confident.

    But growing up thinking you’re “not pretty” is hard – no matter how shallow and silly and insignificant you know in your heart in is, the “not pretty enough” thought always lingers in your mind.

    So what do we do with our daughters to keep them from becoming Ashlee Simpson wannabees (i.e.: “I’m pretty and rich and talented and sell records and star on cheesy TV series but yet I still feel like I need plastic surgery in order to be perfect.”)? I don’t know … but, I, for one, am starting by not allowing Barbie into the house. (Then again, Barbie is probably still scared of me. My GI Joe killed my one Barbie.)

    Bridgermama August 12, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    I think the first step in this revolution should be establishing new role-models for our young girls. No more Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Lyndsay Lohan, or Brittany Spears.

    I think your daughter will be just fine, she has you. You can be that important role-model and good mamas are the best ones around.

    Dawn August 12, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    When Emily was tiny, her father would hold her and coo “You’re beautiful” and I would stand next to him and say “Tell her she is smart and powerful and can do anything she wants to do….”

    He would look at me askance.

    I understood this post deep in my soul HBM. Not being one of the “pretty” ( and in my hometown – skinny) girls I could never figure out what it was they they possessed that I just didn’t. If I lost more weight? If I wore different clothes?

    The pain of being the self aware girl gives over to being the externally confident woman and then the pain of being the smart mother who fears what her daughter will experience. And yes. When Emily was told by some little evil shit that she was “poor”, I about had a conniption. I had dressed her in the best of clothes. Sent her to the best school and she gets an arbitrary comment and I am transported to being nine years old ago. Feeling inadequate.

    So, I try to give Emily a base for her to launch from. I don’t want to tell her that all people are shitty – but some are. Shitty and small. That men like her father – smart, sophisticated men like women like me …(and her- someday).

    And I thought you are just gorgeous.

    Binkytown August 12, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    I think it’s inevitable that your daughter will question her looks at some point, regardless of whether or not you ban Marie Claire from your house, but having you to talk her through it and hopefully reading the words that you wrote will carry her a long long way.

    Oh, The Joys August 12, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    You have a beautiful nose… and you are a beautiful writer.

    Blog Antagonist August 12, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    I have boys. I have often longer for a girl, but I am realizing that I have escaped a whole host of issues by bearing sons. How to give a daughter a sense of worth and an identity independant of her looks while trying to be understanding and supportive of the inevitable link between the two is something I’m not sure I’m equipped to deal with. It was hard enough when I was a child, and I think it’s even harder in this day and age, where social media is omnipresent.

    You are beautiful. But it’s your brialliance that I am attracted to. :? )

    nonlineargirl August 12, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I am not even sure where to start. Thanks for the thoughtful meditations on something we all struggle with, no matter what our features.

    Beanie Baby August 12, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Believe me, HBM–I was tormented for being ugly, and then I was tormented for being pretty. It’s no better.

    Her Bad Mother August 12, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    You’re totally right, BB, in that torment of any kind is terrible. Doesn’t matter why. And I certainly saw attractive kids get targetted from time to time.

    But more often it was the quote-unquote funny-looking kids, or awkward kids, or chubby kids, or kids that dressed funny (this was also me – I had a penchant for dress-up that didn’t always go over so well) or smart kids (also me – got smacked around the playground once by a big girl named Carrie-Ann after I won a in-school spelling bee).

    Kids that stood out got picked on. But I don’t want to wish that WB NOT stand out.

    I just wish that no matter who she is, or how she is, she’ll be comfortable in that skin.

    (DO do a post on your experience of this – I’ll look for it. I’m eager to continue this conversation.)

    Onetallmomma August 12, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    Your nose. My ears. My name was Dumbo.

    That was a wonderful post. Thank you. As the mother of 3 daughters I often struggle with the questions and the dreams for them.

    I have come to realize that the best example I can give them is how I react to my own body. I never vocalize about my weight or looks other then to say, if they ask, the I love what I have. And saying makes it so. They love the squishy parts, the gray parts, the soft parts and the hard parts of me. And now, so do I.

    They also know that a persons true beauty is found in the eyes and in the soul of a person. Because I have been telling them that for years and years.

    Oh, and they are not allowed to look at popular magazines and TV…yet. They will get a fist full of our culture soon enough.

    Lena August 12, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    Gosh. I have such mixed emotions about this subject. I HATE my nose. More than anyone ever has before.

    I think you’re gorgeous. I’ve also seen you in person and you’re even more gorgeous! And your personality! Awesome.

    I also understand how you feel though. I think it’s okay to love your physical self and still prefer to change things if you can. But, this should never ever be confused with changing “who you are”. Just because you choose to alter things about your physical nature, it doesn’t mean you’re not accepting yourself – your spirit remains unaltered. That’s what matters.

    Keeping body image and self image separate is the ultimate goal. If they’re TRULY separate, then plastic surgery is a non-issue.

    kittenpie August 12, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    I think what made it worse with Ashlee is she had been doing a good job of doing the more rock-n-roll authentic thing and staying away from the plasticity of her sister’s image until she got smacked for lip-synching. Disappointing.

    As for you? Love that picture. I know it doesn’t help your brain to hear us all say it, but your worries are for naught on the nose front.

    I love your dream for WonderBaby, and hope that looks don’t have to be an issue for Pumpkinpie either. But… here’s the thing. Even us who have regular enough features to pass the pretty mark without being so perfect or interesting to wander into beautiful territory with its own pitfalls – even those of us found things to stress about. Big hips, crazy hair, pimples, later wrinkles…

    So while I totally share that dream for my girl, I’m sad that it’s just that. So I also think it’s fortunate for both of our little girls that they are likely to be cute enough to only have to focus in the minor frills and avoid the teasing.

    Pattie August 12, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    I think it is so hard as women to not care about our appearance when it is shoved in our face (no pun intended) everytime we turn around. Our society teaches young girls to care about how they look. I think in Ashlee’s case it is even harder. She is in the entertainment industry. The focus is more on her looks, and magazine articles comparing her looks to her sisters can be damaging. Let’s not forget, she is just a kid, and probably insecure at that. As the mom of two daughters, I am conscious of raising them to be confident, and not focus so much on appearances. But in reality, when they get out there in the world, I am going to have no control over what other’s say to them or the images that are thrust at them. I only hope I can build them a foundation strong enough so that they won’t care.BTW, I fail to see anything wrong with your nose. I think you are like most of us…harder and more critical of yourself than others are of you. You are a beautiful lady.

    Exiled to Canada August 12, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    I have a son, so my concern tends toward the bully/ target of bullying. I don’t want him to be either one. My better half and I have discussed it and decided that martial arts is one way to counter act the behavior. I have a 2nd degree blackbelt in a rather vicious form of karate (got it in college because frat boys are scary) and have trained in various other styles, so I have some experience to draw from in finding the right place for him. It’s not the answer for eveyone (or for every child) but it just seems (at the moment, we reserve the right to change our minds) to be the best way to give him self confidence while tempering it with a respect for others.
    We’re discussing having child number two. If it’s a girl, I know we’ll be having the same concerns you are about self-image and self-confidence for her.
    I find it a bit annoying and ironic that a magazine that undoubtedly publishes air-brushed photos of celebs and models on a regular basis is calling this child out for having a nose job….

    Mayberry August 12, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    I have the same response as IAI did…this is by far one of the hardest things about having a girl. Then again, I also have a boy; and part of my job in raising him, as well as his sister, is to help them become whole people who appreciate the wholeness of others.

    I’m going to follow up on this on my own blog because it
    s related to something I’ve been puzzling over.

    Jaelithe August 12, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    I know people keep telling you this, but you have a perfectly normal-sized nose. Seriously.

    Still, I know how you feel. I always felt like the ugliest girl at my school. At every school, until college. I criticized every single part of my body. Because at one point or another, I’d been teased about practically every part of my body. I hated the way I looked.

    And when my son had to get surgery that left a scar on his beautiful face (it’s small, and you can barely see it in photos, but it’s there), I actually said out loud to my husband, “I am so glad he is a boy, because as a boy, few people will make fun of his scar. And if anyone does, he can claim it’s a badge of honor, that means he’s tough, and the other boys will probably back down. But if a little girl had a noticeable scar on her face, she’d be teased about it for years.”

    And I felt terrible just thinking about it, let alone saying it, but the sad fact is, it’s probably true. I wish it weren’t.

    (I also worry that if we have a girl later on, and she’s not a redhead, she’ll be terribly jealous of our son’s red hair).

    Much More Than A Mom August 13, 2006 at 1:48 am

    You’re gorgeous. And funny. And sensitive. And a great mom.

    I just moved to Come check out my new digs when you get a chance.

    Izzy August 13, 2006 at 2:39 am

    I know having me tell you this was not the objective of this post, but I don’t recall there being a single thing wrong with your nose. Seriously. But by the same token, I hate my own nose, so I understand.

    And the whole beauty thing confounds me. I don’t even know where to start with it and wherein it affects my daughter it is even more confounding. I just tell her, when the topic comes up, that being pretty should is not as important as being a good person. I don’t know what else to do. I wear makeup. I look in the mirror with disdain. How do I save her from the “tyranny of beauty” as it’s sometimes called, without being completely hypocritical about it?

    mo-wo August 13, 2006 at 7:03 am

    When I was younger I worked with a dad of 3. I mocked a book our library shelves called ‘why raise ugly kids’ or something like that.. He, a odd looking, radiant and lovely man, said to me well why.

    I thought about my dear brother’s weight problem and how he always stuggled more with the attention paid by family than outsiders really. How I wished he had more breezy support and confidence about what was good about his appearance. That it probably would help him in lots of unexpected ways to love him SELF, which is more than logical.

    I am resolved to teach my children to see their beauty and never let them take the bait of self criticism in the esoteric. It is a wish and work.

    This from someone who can’t really look in a mirror at herself outside of one the size of that hanging about my dashboard, ha! One more parenting goal..

    julia August 13, 2006 at 9:12 am

    Y’know, I read your blog and I sit in my chair, muttering to myself “Why do I even bother trying to write?” I love reading what you write. It always makes me think and it’s always so well done. It also makes me a bit jealous, but there you go.

    This was such a great post. I have some serious body image issues and am really striving not to pass them along to my girls. Thanks for writing this – it sort of stiffens my resolve.

    canape August 13, 2006 at 10:29 am

    If you think about it, ugly or pretty has very little to do with it. Girls make fun or insult other girls for one reason: they need to feel better about themselves.
    I was made fun of for my disaterous fashion sense, or lack thereof. In turn, I made fun of the girls who all dressed alike.
    I was made fun of for my “don’t care what I look like” attitude. In turn, I made fun of girls who “wasted” their time primping in the mirror.
    It’s not just about teaching our daughters to accept themselves, but to accept the differences in others too I think.

    Piece of Work August 13, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    I agree with martstar, that is not just beauty that girls get teased about. Maybe beauty is a stinging point for a lot of people, so it’s an easy place for bullies to start. I never felt interesting enough or tall enough or funny enough. I was always overlooked and I wished that I had some way to stand out, to be noticed.

    I’m not convinced there’s anyway to avoid this altogether for our own girls (or boys, I guess). Encouraging them to love themselves for their outer AND inner beauty, for their accomplishments, for their interests–this will all help. And teaching our children to be kind, and to appreciated all the nuances of people will help (though I think even the best laid intentions and the best hearts get clouded by insecurities in high school)
    I don’t know of anyone who survived the teenage years without ANY of this type of angst, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe surviving that teaches us that we are strong.

    BabyMakes3 August 13, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    This post spoke to me. The memories of being teased about my nose in childhood still haunt me. And the fluttering hands? I totally did that. Like you, I pray that my daughter will never be plagued by these body issues. Really, I hope that she has her daddy’s nose. Because then it would juse be easier.

    Dana August 13, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    I read your post and kept nodding in agreement to several things you wrote.

    Celebrities are unintentional role models. Meaning, they are famous and they influence others whether they intend to or not. So Ashlee Simpson getting a nose job might signal a teen girl that her looks are inadequate and she should have plastic surgery, too. And maybe it is a false sense of “ugliness” in that teen girl’s mind.

    But then again, if I were truly unhappy with my nose or my breasts or my wrinkles (when I’m 40 of course) who’s to say it’s wrong for me to have a nose job, breast implants and botox?

    It’s such a catch 22. I believe we are all beautiful. Inside and Outside. But I also believe we have a right to be happy. To be confident, to feel and look great. And if we make decisions to have some help in those areas, who is anyone else to judge?

    God, I’m rambling again. And my comment probably made no sense!

    This really was a great entry, it really made me think as well.

    Juliness August 13, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Excelent, excellent post! You’ve touched on tender spots we all have and are loathe to pass on to our younger sisters, nieces, daughters, etc. Bravo!

    (Can you hear my applause? Cuz if not, I’ll cheer louder!)

    Mrs. Chicky August 13, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! All of it, the whole thing, yes.

    I actually tried to come up with a better comment than this but, after a full 24 hours, I still can’t think of anything better than Yes. Wonderful post HBM. You are one beautiful woman.

    GIRL'S GONE CHILD August 14, 2006 at 1:15 am

    It’s funny because I was always mocked for having GIANT boobs in high school. I was the “biggest whore” in school of course because I had DDD tits and the older guys liked me and so I went my entire high school carreer (heh) wiping the garage doors of whipped cream. COCK-SUCKING whore isn’t something you want the neighbors to see and it was awful. I hated having boobs and I hated that it was all every one saw. I was “popular” in HS and pretty confident when it came to boys and sexuality but on Homecoming night when I was waving to the stupid crowd in my stupid tiara in a stupid convertable, the away team of the bleachers started chanting “Nice Tits, Homecoming Queen” and I was horrified. I left the game early and went home and made an appointment for a reduction the next day. I was 17. I hated my boobs. And I have never regreted the decision I made, even after having to have the surgery redone (they grew back) and even after I couldn’t breastfeed.

    I loved your post. I think embracing ones beauty is sooooo important and motherhood has done wonders on my body-image for sure but it’s a tough call. If I ever have a daughter and she gets my big boobs and she hates them I will gladly make an appointment for surgery so that she doesn’t have to go through that.

    I’m sorry I’m totally writing an essay in the comments, HBM… Perhaps I just post about it on my blog, Ha!

    Anyway, Bravo as usual. You are BEAUTIFUL and your beauty radiates through your words, always inspired and inspiring

    Lady M August 14, 2006 at 4:06 am

    Beautifully written, as usual. And I was thinking just what bubandpie said!

    On a more serious note, I agree that children (and adults) have an easier time when they are attractive. It’s no guarantee of protection – almost everyone becomes at target at some point – but the beauties will often get a second chance, second explanation, etc.

    I wish for my child to be secure about himself, his personality, strengths, skills. And I also hope that he’ll escape the bullying that’s so common.

    Mom101 August 14, 2006 at 9:05 am

    Spectacular and honest. Perfect.

    I can only assure you(as Im sure others here have) that imperfect looks build character. Those cheerleaders with the cheerleader noses? I came back to my hs reunioin and realized they all peaked in hs. There’s something about being unconventional that forces you to rely on more skills than your looks. And while that’s small comfort when the Donalds of the world try to bring you down.

    Ashlee? Yeah, I see the hypocracy. But maybe it’s a faster route for young fans to realize that Hollywood is not reality, and pr is not the same as truth and celebs are not role models.

    I’m more upset by the fact that she people buy her albums despite the fact that she sucks. How many talented artists can’t get deals because one sister of Jessica is in their spot?

    Mom101 August 14, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Yeah, didn’t proofread there. So much for me relying on any skills.

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