My mother taught me to be proud of my appearance, without saying so explicitly. She never went on diets or complained about her looks. As a kid I was teased about my freckles—and I had lots! But I didn't let it bother me. Thanks to my mom, I had enough confidence that I felt beautiful regardless of what other people said. My five-year old daughter is learning that from me now, and even talks about how she can't wait to get freckles, too!
—Isabel Canez, Chandler, AZ
She Taught Me to "Get Real"
My mom was image conscious, but she raised us to be "real" about our appearance. She stressed being natural, letting inner beauty shine through—things that no amount of makeup can do. My mom died two years ago, at 67, and every time I leave the house without having to "put my face on" I think of how special she was.
—Mary Gomolka, Cherry Tree, PA
The Amazing Bag of Compliments
My mother has always made me feel beautiful, both inside and out. It's like she carries around a bag of compliments and shares them (generously!) with others. There is no doubt in my mind that she's responsible for my successes because her compliments gave me confidence. For this, I'm forever grateful to her. And I will surely pass the bag of compliments along to my daughter.
—Robin Solsky, Califon, NJ
She Was a Wallflower, Not Me
My mother was a pretty petite woman who never wore a speck of make-up or clothes that fit. In contrast, my father was flamboyant and charming. To make matters worse, as a bank manager, he was in charge of a dozen impeccably groomed young women. One time, my mother paid him an unexpected visit. Later, she told me he was embarrassed to see her amongst all of them. I felt how hurt she was, and that sense of betrayal made a lasting impression on me.
Today, I'm what you might call a "flamboyant fashionista"—I would never dream of walking out the door without looking fabulous. If my husband shows embarrassment, it will be on his account, not mine.
—Trudy Hastings, Gilford, NH
From helping me find flattering jeans for my hourglass plus-sized figure (yes, really) to reminding me that even though I'm a mom, I'm still a young woman, my mother influences the way I feel about my appearance very positively. My body and my life may keep changing, but she makes it easy for me to remain confident.
—Heather Hummert, Gildford, MT
A Little Bit of Color Goes a Long Way
Shortly after the birth of my second daughter, my mother told me I looked pale and needed lipstick to add a little color to my face. That was 25 years ago, and to this day I almost never leave the house without putting some on. It may seem like such a small thing, but it brightens up my face and mood. One simple solution from my mother instantly helped me look—and feel—better.
—Janine French, Valparaiso, IN
The Genetics of Self-Consciousness
My mother always felt as though others judged her based on the way she looks. So I grew up being self-conscious too. To this day I can't just put on a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans and run out the door.
—Debby Stark, Cyrus, MN
In private, my mother gave me a critical look and said things like, "What will people think? Look how fat you are!" But if I wasn't eating dinner one night, she'd say, "Don't you like my cooking? I made this for you." These mixed signals confused me and made me feel more insecure about my actions. I think I've finally found the answer though—I'm ridding myself of everything I heard my mother say in the past. I'm creating a new way to think of myself in my own head!
—Pamela Bruso, Kankakee, IL
PS: Don't Tell Mom
I love my mother dearly, but she spent a lot of time teaching me how to look and act "perfect" so that she wouldn't be judged as an unfit mother. As a result, I care nothing for fashion and avoid makeup like the plague. By the way, if you post my response, please change my name. She would kill me if she knew I wrote this!
—Anonymous, Bantam, CT
How did your mother shape your view of your appearance? Share your own story in the comments section below.