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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As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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