My daughter is so much more than ‘pretty’

My mother tells a story of the very early years of my life. I was not yet two-years-old and all I wanted was real earrings. She ultimately gave in and had my ears pierced. I loved my pretty earrings.

That’s when I started chasing pretty–before my second birthday.

Every stranger that I met noticed my pretty earrings. In the line at the grocery store. At the zoo. My earrings and I got so many compliments. I was a pretty baby with pretty earrings and pretty dresses.

I grew into a little girl who loved being pretty. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to hear compliments on my appearance. My self-worth became enmeshed in those compliments. This was the beginning of a lifetime spent chasing pretty.

By the time I was 10, I thought I needed to lose weight. Because skinny is pretty. For a 4th-grader, I spent far too much time in my bedroom trying to curl my bangs, because I wanted to look pretty.

I wanted people to tell me I was pretty because this is how I came to measure my self-worth.

Long before high school I developed an unhealthy perception of my body. This led to diet pills and crash diets. Because skinny is pretty and pretty is everything.

I accumulated all the necessary (and much of the unnecessary) beautifying equipment. This included a closet stuffed with clothes and drawers full of make-up and hair supplies. These things helped in the chase. They helped make me pretty. Really pretty. Or at least that’s what I heard from strangers.

But despite a lifetime of chasing pretty, I never felt pretty.

Pretty was a moving target that I never could quite seem to catch.

No matter how much I dieted, how much make up I wore, or how cute my outfit was on any given day—pretty seemed to escape me. Each time I looked in the mirror or saw a photo of myself, I questioned.

Do I look pretty?

I am now 33-years-old. I am a wife and mother of two. Last year I finished a Ph.D. I accomplished great heights in my career—accumulating accolades and recognition for contributions to my field of work. These days, I have surrendered to the chase.

I no longer have the time and energy to chase pretty. Because frankly, it’s exhausting.

I never was going to catch it anyways.

Somewhere in these major life changes I saw a photo that changed everything. For the first time, I saw a photo of myself that took my breathe away.

As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Although this photograph is the same-old-me, I am now looking at it through a different lens.

When I saw this photo, I didn’t see “pretty.” I saw something better.

I saw happy.

I saw intelligent.

I saw loving.

Once I stopped chasing pretty, I started to see everything that really mattered.

I have found a sense of self-worth that I never found in my pursuit of pretty. Now, I feel lighter. The moving target of beauty is one that I am not chasing any longer.

I feel relief.

But at the same time—I feel fear.

Because I have a baby girl. A baby girl that is told she is pretty all the time.

I cringe. Because I don’t want her to chase pretty. She’s nearly the age that I was when the chase started for me. How do I teach my daughter to value her inner-beauty? How do I teach her that self-worth isn’t sealed into pretty?

I will try my best.

I will teach her that strangers can’t see the beautiful stuff on the inside. However, out of some bizarre cultural norm she will find that these strangers constantly praise and discuss her external appearance.

World, please hear me. I need your help.

I am trying to raise a daughter to chase kindness, education, and compassion for humanity. With all that on her plate, she doesn’t have time to chase pretty.

The next time you see us at the grocery store, say hello. If you want to talk with her–please go ahead. Ask her the name of her favorite book. Ask her about her beloved puppy.

Just stop making a little girl’s physical appearance her stand-out quality.

For the love of all things good, please stop telling my baby that she is pretty. Because she’s so much more than that.

Join Motherly

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.

Keep reading Show less

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play