My Mother's Eyes
My Mother’s Eyes
A search for beauty in a world that finds it in all the wrong places.
BY Rosie Ricca
When I was growing up I would be the first one to be ready when our family would head out of the house.
I barely brushed my hair. I thought I was a genius for only brushing the outer layer.
When I was 10 years old I wore a bandana every day for that summer.
Again, I thought I was a genius because I would be done with my hair in 0.3 seconds.
I learned how to beat the system of taking forever to get ready.
My teenage sisters took HOURS. I could go run down to my friend Tommy's house, beat him in a Pokemon card game, and make it back home in time to make a sandwich, watch an episode of "Yugioh!" and get ready.
But sometimes when I finished getting ready, I would go into my mom's room and sit on the bathtub watching her do her makeup.
She had a specific routine. And there is something so hypnotizing about watching your mother get ready for the day. She had this peculiar round brushes for her bangs. She used a straightener with such confidence. I burned myself the first 30 times I tried to use it. And she had this glow around her. Maybe it was her light up mirror. Regardless, she looked beautiful.
As I grew up, I realized I was classified as a tomboy. And somewhere between the age of 14 and 15 I also realized I didn't want to be a tomboy anymore. I wanted to be girlier. I wanted to have a high school experience more like my sisters'.
They always had dates they were getting ready for. They bought special hairspray to keep their hair cute for basketball or volleyball games. They had special razors to get ready for their swim meets. My oldest sister had her signature ponytail when she was president-ing over her student body. My other sister wore a tie like boys leading in her own style as she headed to her art classes.
I didn't want to be the tomboy that wore shirts I spray painted in the garage while these women got beautiful.
I wanted to be pretty. And this was how it seemed that happened.
I started brushing all of my hair. I started wearing dresses and skirts. I started being quieter. I started experimenting with style. And found out I had some. Instead of Pokemon, I started watching Gossip Girl. Serena's confidence and clothes always inspired me.
I would still get ready earlier than my mother, so I would sit on the bathtub and watch her get ready.
But somewhere between Serena and now, Jesus found me. He showed me this chubby former tomboy had a beauty in her heart. He showed me I didn't need dates or special hairspray. My beauty was curated by His Spirit living in me. My natural beauty was worth preserving and advocating for. I didn't need makeup to feel complete. I didn't need straightened hair to be accepted by others. I didn't need anything more than what He had already given me.
It seems in these high school years we're so scared to be ugly. We're so terrified to miss a moment for someone to think we're beautiful. Someone affirming our beauty is like a dose of oxygen when you're drowning in the waters of insufficiency.
I was tired of feeling like my beauty and confidence were playing hide and go seek, and I was losing.
I started to pray to see myself through my Father's eyes. In the most desperate of moments, heightened by insecurities, I would beg as I looked in the mirror, "God, please, show me how You see me."
I fought like my life depended on it to believe these things in later high school, college, and post-graduation.
I cried and journaled through my insecurities. Occasionally letting friends into this deep room in the back of my heart.
I'm now a married woman, still wearing dresses, still halfheartedly brushing my hair. Recently I went to visit my mother. She had to go into work, so I woke up early, made some coffee, and sat on the tub while she got ready.
And for the first time in my life, I listened to what my mother said while she was "getting beautiful." Every piece and tool for makeup was used to cover up flaws, insecurities, or pain.
"Ugh, do you see this wrinkle?"
"These bangs are not working with me today."
Sigh. "That's as good as it's going to get."
I sat on the tub realizing the same criticisms that snuck into my heart were the same ones my mom sees.
I was driving back to my home and I replayed the voices of my insecurities:
"Your eyes are too far apart."
"Ugh, your hair looks so dry."
"Your hands are too chubby."
"Where did this double chin come from?"
"Your moles look gross."
"Don't laugh too loud, it sounds so annoying."
"You can't wear shorts because your cellulite is showing."
I may resemble my earthly father in most of my appearance, but I noticed then, there on the tub, that I inherited my mother's eyes. I instantly felt incredibly sad for the women in my life. I started crying, mourning that our culture, our society, enhances such cruel self-talk about our appearances. I mourned that the Church, too, can be an unsafe place for girls to cultivate an inner beauty.
We champion phrases like "modest is hottest" instead of diving into the heart behind it.
Beautiful daughter of the King of Kings,
Why are you wearing what you are wearing? What are you showing off? What are you covering up? Why is shame or a lack of love dictating how you dress?
How many generations of women are we going to let this self-deprecating talk be inherited through?
How many younger women than us are going to indirectly inherit our disapproval of ourselves?
Is there a way to break the cycle? Is there something we can do?
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
Yeah, we hear that verse. But have you heard it paired with Psalm 51:10?
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (KJV).
A dear friend of mine said recently, "What you don't get healed of, you pass on."
We can pray and ask God to heal our hearts of these lies about our beauty. We can stop and call on Jesus' name to give us a new heart and to throw aside these heavy chains of insecurities.
But this starts with us.
What if we started our days in prayer? What if while we're getting ready each day, we put on (metaphysically) the belt of truth? What if marinate our weary hearts in truth? What if we complimented ourselves? What if we thanked God for this body He gave us?
What if we then spoke this gratitude around our sisters/mothers/friends? What if we thanked God for their beauty?
And what if this spread, and spread, and spread To where no younger versions of ourselves are confused as to who or what defines their beauty.
It's not the boy in second period. It's not your mother sitting at her vanity. It is not even you who spends the most time with ... you. It is the Creator of the cosmos. It is the Creator of the most beautiful sunset. It is the Creator of the complex human eyeball. It is the Creator who left His fingerprints on our hearts.
Dig deep, friend. Find the courage to see yourself through your Father's eyes.