Now I know I’m beautiful, too: My daughter’s body looks just like mine

When you see the things you ‘hate’ about yourself reflected in someone so perfect, it’s time to reconsider.

Now I know I’m beautiful, too: My daughter’s body looks just like mine

Today, I came across an old photo of myself in an album that my mother meticulously put together about 20 years ago. I remember when she undertook this project. She wanted to have a dedicated album for each of her three daughters, and it involved hours of lovingly sorting, arranging and reminiscing over every single photograph. She gave me my album to keep when she came for the birth of my first daughter.


In that photo, I'm about 8 years old. I'm standing at the shore of the ocean with my youngest sister, aged three at the time. She has a delighted grin on her face as she gingerly treads the golden sand, but you can't see mine as it's covered by my windswept, thick, brown curls with copper-tinged ends due to being in the sun for days on end. I'm wearing a bathing suit. My long, strong legs show that I was tall for my age.

All I can remember when I see this photo is the time my preteen self saw it in the album, self-consciously extracted it and hid it away from view.

“I look so fat," I remember thinking to myself.

I hated seeing it and certainly didn't want anyone else to see it. I remember my other sister, two years younger than me, asking me at some point why I hated that photograph so much. I don't remember how I answered her.

I haven't seen that photo since then. And today, I decided to sit down with my 21-month-old daughter and show her pictures of Mama when she was a little girl. This photograph immediately fell out of the pocket at the back of the album where I had placed it for safekeeping and straight onto my lap. It stunned me into silence for a little while as all of the associated thoughts and emotions came flooding back.

“Pittee-too!" my daughter cried out in glee, announcing her version of the words “swimming pool." We don't have a lot of beaches where we live, so I laughed softly and started pointing out the people and scenery in the picture. And with her innocent eyes, she didn't see a girl with chubby thighs, a rounded belly or frizzy, unkempt hair. She simply saw two little girls playing happily in the water.

I looked at her. Quietly and carefully. I watched her peaceful expression as she took in the photo. I pulled her close to me, breathed in the heavenly scent of her hair, and kissed her soft cheek. I thought about how when I look at her, all I see is perfection.

Most people agree that she looks just like her father. But those that observe closely can tell that she has elements of me, too.

She has my high, rounded forehead. I remember noticing it in one of the late-stage ultrasounds when I was pregnant with her. I joked to my husband, “She's got my big alien head!"

She has the same slight joining between her eyebrows that I have. I love the way her strong brow furrows when she's concentrating on something. We both frown when we're concentrating; it's just one of those things. I watch her and can see the flickers of recognition and understanding coming over her face as she discovers something new. I remember how, at age 12, I was so eager to do something about my “monobrow."

She has my curly hair. I run my fingers through it when I get her ready in the morning, and love the feeling of every little perfectly formed ringlet coiling around my fingers. Her hair is soft, bouncy and light. I find myself unconsciously playing with it when we're sitting together, in the same way that my father would play with mine when I was a child. In fact, he still does it now sometimes. I got my curly hair from him and now I've passed it onto her. When I was in primary school, I remember trying to slick it back into a tight bun to make it look as straight as possible, but the frizz always won that battle. I so desperately wanted one of those perfect, straight fringes that went evenly across my forehead. I remember getting a fringe cut at the hairdressers and then being disappointed to find out that by cutting curly hair, it actually springs back a hundred times curlier.

She has my legs. One hundred percent.

It actually amazes me how they're a carbon copy of mine, down to every last detail: the shape of our ankles, the way our knees aren't perfectly centered, everything. She will probably eventually get my wide hips, too. She has always had strong legs, and people would marvel when she was an infant at how well she could support herself while standing. I love how expertly she can run to chase after something that has caught her interest, squat down to quietly observe a snail that has come across our path and dance like a ballerina on her tip-toes with real, genuine grace. I remember dreading P.E. day at school because I hated wearing those horrible white shorts which accentuated how much thicker my thighs were than all the other girls. I started wearing swimming shorts over my bathing suit all the time and would refuse to get into the water without them.

She has my big, wide feet. I love how despite their toddler sponginess and roundness, they take her wherever she wants to go. They look like little girl feet now, but I still remember the way they looked when she was first born. So small, so delicate, toes curled in slightly; and when she would sporadically kick them at me I would be reminded of how it felt from the inside. Her favorite shoes are the blue and orange sneakers Papa bought her when he went on a business trip and she asks me if she can wear them inside the house at least twice a day. I remember when my parents bought me some sparkly red Cinderella shoes at age eight and I was distraught to find that they didn't come anywhere close to fitting. I started to hate shoe shopping because the styles that I liked inevitably never came in my size.

There it was. The realization that all of the parts of my body that I resented as an adolescent, and some even now as a grown woman, were emblazoned so clearly in my child. The child I see as the ultimate embodiment of beauty and perfection, in every possible way.

Was this some kind of catharsis that the universe had decided I needed to go through?

That in a moment, my perspective of these parts of my own body as flaws and imperfections would be completely torn down and replaced with the perspective of an adoring mother beholding how exquisite every last detail of her child was? “How is it possible," the universe taunted me in that moment, “that you can hate this part of your own body, but then love it beyond comprehension in that of another, when the two are so undeniably similar?"

She's at the age now where she is copying so many of my behaviors. The way she carries her handbag as she pushes her toy stroller. The way she rocks her baby doll when she's trying to comfort her. The way she makes a surprised face when she sees or hears something that we both know is super exciting. The way she came into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth the other day, saw the digital scale under the sink, pulled it out and excitedly stepped on it. Obviously, she didn't know the significance of what she was doing in that small action, but I was completely stunned at the truth behind what “they" say: That our little ones are watching, observing, learning and imitating. Every. Little. Thing. That we do.

One of the craziest things that strikes me when I think about that photo is that I was raised by two loving, supportive, incredible parents, who never made body image a “thing." And yet this insidious body insecurity that affects so many children, and particularly girls, still managed to weasel its way in to a child's mind, despite being told that she was strong, smart, beautiful and loved.

Raising girls during a time when there is so much emphasis on the physical, on aesthetics, on narrow, unrealistic and shallow definitions of beauty, is daunting. And with this newfound realisation, I have promised myself to teach her, as best as I can, to see her body as something amazing, and powerful, and strong, and perfect. I want her to see how many incredible things her body is capable of–I've certainly learned that over time.

That you might think that you're not the “athletic type," but then you train those legs and feet you once resented, through determination and perseverance, to run faster, and farther, than you ever could have thought possible.

That you might feel uncomfortable with your changing body as you transform from girl to woman, but then you appreciate every single one of those changes when you witness your body house and grow a baby, who you then nourish with that very same body.

That the sooner you accept that beauty is not about a set of standards to which one must aspire, but about valuing your own uniqueness, and what you do with that uniqueness, how you treat people, what kind of person you become, the easier life gets.

And the reemergence of this photograph which I so desperately wanted to keep hidden, reminded me that in order to do that, I need to be her example. I wanted to hug the young me in that photo and tell her all of these things.

And then I realized that the universe has given me a chance to do that, by teaching those very things to my own little girl.

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    The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

    Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

    Conz Preti

    Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

    This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

    Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


    Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


    Belly oil

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

    Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

    $58

    Belly mask

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

    Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

    $42

    Nipple + lip ointment 

    HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

    Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

    $28

    Belly tattoos

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

    A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

    $18

    This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

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

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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    15 vegetarian school lunch ideas kids will gobble up

    Need some plant-free lunch ideas to take to school? We got you, mama.

    Tom Werner / Getty

    Have your kids stopped eating meat? Is your family just trying to cut back? One trend I'm intrigued by is eating vegetarian on the weekdays, then going omnivore Saturday through Sunday. For health, happiness and environmental reasons, more and more families are simply opting out of anything that's not grown from the ground—and that includes two of my daughters.

    With school starting back up, you may be needing some more school lunch ideas for kids that don't include meat to keep those cute lunch boxes—and little bellies—full!

    Here are our favorite ways to pack lunch boxes that are hearty, satisfying, full of protein yet vegetarian all the way through.

    Simplified Focaccia Bread

    When we lived in Italy, we learned that focaccia bread was originally made for fishermen who needed a fast lunch that would stick with them until dinner. Olive oil not only packs a flavorful punch but adds enough (good) fats to keep fishermen full. Turns out, it works for kids at school too and this easy recipe is the best way to make it!

    Cheddar Cheese and Apple Muffins

    Think of these savory baked goods as a twist on a biscuit--one that's packed with tart apples and creamy, salty cheddar cheese.

    Whole-Wheat Mini Tomato Galettes

    Start with pie crust (use our easy recipe or take a shortcut with something from the store) then layer on the freshly sliced tomatoes (or potatoes!), sprinkle with cheese and bake. These make-ahead lunches will be the hit of your bento boxes (Tip: measure the size of your container and adjust your galettes before baking!)

    Spicy Black Bean Enchilada Cups

    Of all the ways to eat enchiladas, I bet you've never thought of this one. Fold tortillas into muffin pans and fill with all the gorgeous flavors of enchiladas. If your kids aren't into spicy, simply skip the adobe sauce and use mild enchilada sauce instead. (P.S. If you like the idea of using your muffin pan for another lunch special, try lasagna cups too.)

    Veggie Nuggets

    Served at room temp, this vegetarian spin on every kid's favorite food is a tasty treat. Don't forget to pack dipping sauce! (Bonus: Make a big batch and store in the freezer to simply pull out when you're ready to pack lunches.)

    Fruit & Nut Butter Wraps

    Begin with a tortilla or wrap, then slather on a thick layer of your chosen nut butter and top with freshly sliced fruit: strawberries, peaches, blueberries… Almost any combination works deliciously.

    Puff Pastry Pizza

    Talk about a happy meal. This one combines pizza with the buttery, flaky texture of puff pastry. Add any toppings your kids love, from plain cheese to tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and more.

    Crispy Tofu Nuggets

    If you've got an air fryer and a vegetarian kid, these tofu nuggets are your new best dish. Their perfectly crisp texture will remind you of a popular dish served in packs of six at a restaurant that rhymes with Schmic-donalds.

    Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

    "But how do you get enough protein?" For every parent of a vegetarian has heard this about a zillion times too many, here's your one-word reply: quinoa! This golden grain is packed with the stuff, plus fiber to keep kids full. Fill a colorful pepper with quinoa, plus a handful of other tasty flavors, and you've got a protein-rich lunch to send to school on repeat.

    Tiny Tomato Pies

    My daughter asks me to make these pies for her birthday every year. And when her friends come over for dinner. And when it's her turn to choose a meal. There's something about a flaky crust topped with cheese and fresh tomato slices all grilled together that even elementary school kids can't resist. (Psst: Since it starts with store-bought biscuit dough, these tiny pies come together in a snap.)

    Quiche Cups

    One of the best things about quiche is how versatile it is: add cheese, grilled veggies, roasted broccoli, fresh herbs...or none of the above. Since you use a muffin pan to make a dozen at a time, you can even change up the combinations to suit your kids' tastes.

    Simple Sushi Rolls

    Don't let the name fool you. Making sushi is not only easier than you think, but a fun way for kids to try their hand in the kitchen with you.

    Toasted Bagel Bites with Hummus

    Slice up a store-bought bagel and give it a minute under the broiler and you'll have the crispy bites kids devour at lunch. My kids like a little hummus, marinara sauce or nut butter and jelly for dipping.

    Very Pickle-y Egg Salad

    The secret to this egg salad is simple: tons of dill pickles. The salty, sweet and crunchy texture makes the perfect bite with all those rich and creamy boiled eggs. (Tip: Save time with dill pickle relish.)

    Taco Pop Tarts

    What started as a cheeky way to use up taco filling has turned into one of my kids' most-requested lunches. Just fill pie crust with your favorite taco filling (using beans or a veggie substitute for ground beef) and bake. Again, word to the wise, do measure your lunch box compartment ahead of time so you don't make mammoth pop tarts like someone I know. Me, it's me. Of course it's me.

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