My Mother’s Compliments

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s and what does it mean to you now?

As a young girl, my mother showered me with compliments. She thought I was absolutely beautiful. She also thought she was the only woman in the world to ever give birth. That was lovely but I always felt shy about it. Now, as I grew older and went on with my life and traveled, I felt in my mind that I was always searching for similar comments. Because of that, I always tried to have everything neatly in place and look as good as I could. Once in a while I’d get a comment, not about beauty but about cuteness, adorableness, attractiveness, well put together.

At this age, I’m actually still searching for that because the mother/daughter relationship…you want to keep that going. I have heard over the years that a lot of mothers, when their daughters become 13 or 15, say “You don’t look very good” or “Can you do your hair differently?”

Not my mother. I was very, very lucky. It kind of made me search  for that repetition. I don’t really know if I’m beautiful or not because it was only really my mother who really thought so

Whatever I came out with, my mother thought was beautiful. The only thing she told me not to do was to wear brown, and that’s pretty small. No criticism. One interesting thing about her that connects the look to the mind was, for example, shopping for a prom dress. She would say, “Bring me your babysitting money and let’s go downtown. I’ll bring an equal amount of money and we will shop for a dress, very reasonable, simple and elegant. Then we’d come home and we’d put a scarf, the pearls, to make it look more ritzy. I couldn’t afford the price of dresses that my peer girls were purchasing, and nobody knew that I got a more reasonable dress because the posture or the pearls…

My mentor and idol was always Grace Kelly because she was elegance and charm.

Did you think of your mother as a beautiful woman?

Well, I thought she was. I am medium height and she was extremely tall. She thought she was too tall, but she could dress and look very attractive. I tried to take her advice and get rid of my nervousness and build my self-esteem.

So beauty to me meant to put on a nice appearance and so doing, to be able to really relax in the event, evening or dinner and hopefully get some kind of “Gee, you look great tonight.” Some kind of compliment. But if I didn’t get the compliment, that was okay.

Have your ideas about beauty changed over the years…your idea of being attractive or beautiful or cute?

Not at all.

Barbara, 69

San Francisco, October 2010


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie crocker
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 23:34:13

    I think this shows an interesting juxtaposition of internal and external beauty. Moms always seem to tell you that beauty comes from the inside, but in my mom’s case her mom appreciated her external beauty. And this led my mom to search for that constant reassurance of her external beauty. I wonder if she would still be searching for that reassurance if her mother had complemented her on her internal beauty.


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