What’s your Beauty Legacy?


When Flea was four, she told me that, yes, of course she was gorgeous.

And I worried, like a million Mums before me, how long that would last. When would the doubts, the nagging inner critical voice, creep in? Because at the age of 40, I’ve yet to meet a single woman who considers themselves to be beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of friends who know they are attractive. But that’s always modified, isn’t it? “If only I could lose a few pounds”, we say. “Shame my hair looks like a birds’ nest!” 

I can’t think of a single female friend I know who would honestly, and without qualification, describe themselves as beautiful – and then stop talking.

I was reminded of this a few days ago, when I saw some new research from Dove – which illustrates powerfully just how our daughters hear and internalise those critical messages – and apply them to themselves. Dove’s research found that 69% of women say their child has seen them engaging in negative body language habits, while more than a third admit their child has mimicked these words and actions. It’s pretty thought provoking stuff.

This issue is something I am painfully aware of with Flea. I tell my daughter she’s beautiful, and smart, and strong, and funny. I tell her the most beautiful thing about her is her heart, because it’s good and kind. I tell her that only the most idiotic people think that beauty is about whether you’re tall or short or thin or fat.

But modelling that behaviour is HARD, isn’t it?

Like every other woman I know, I am perfectly aware of the flaws in my appearance. I’d love to be tall, and flat chested and basically the opposite of what I got landed with. But I make a conscious effort try to not to let Flea see any worries I might have. I make it very clear that it’s okay to leave the house with a natural face, that I don’t feel the need to disguise or apologise for myself.

It’s especially tricky in recent months, as I’ve lost almost four stones in weight and I’m trying to make sure Flea understands my body changing isn’t about beauty, but about fitness, wellbeing and strength. Not just being thinner.

If you’re interested, Dove has created a variety of self-esteem building materials and activity guides for women to discuss with young girls (aged 7-17) in their lives, so they can take steps to improve their self-esteem. You can download them at www.selfesteem.dove.co.uk.

The Dove project inspired me to see how Flea feels about herself at nine – and how her view of her own beauty has changed, and been affected by my own insecurities. Does she still have the unshakeable confidence that she had at four and five years old?

Here’s what happened:

I’ve got to be honest. After one of those days of despairing of getting ANYTHING right, hearing Flea made me feel a thousand times better. Perhaps if my daughter has such unshakeable confidence, I’m getting at least one thing right, eh?

Now just to work on the cooking. And everything else.


[Oh, and this isn’t a sponsored post. I just think it’s a lovely campaign. And you should definitely watch this video which absolutely didn’t make me cry. Not even a little bit.]


36 thoughts on “What’s your Beauty Legacy?”

  1. Your video of Flea may have made me tear up a little! How very lovely to know your child feels like that about themselves and how happy it must make you to know that she believes you feel that way about yourself too. You should be proud. I absolutely love that she wrote appendix on her list and the sign about the eye rolling. LOVE that.x

  2. Oh Sally, who needs to cook? You’re doing everything right from the look of that video. And I’m not ashamed to say I’m a bit teary after watching it too! Beautiful.

  3. what an ace mum you are Sally Whittle Just ace. My mum was an AWESOME mum too and she taught me I was beautiful too and it doesn’t half help when life punches you a bit or you have ate too may cakes to know you are love loved loved and are perfectly beautiful just as you are . I have never lost that confidence in spite of life’s ups and downs. It starts young indeed and will help her through. Blooming well done you.

  4. It’s amazing what children pick up. My three year old daughter has recently startefacts barely eating because she says she doesn’t want to be fat. I am confident in my body and don’t diet so I can only imagine she has heard it at nursery. It breaks my heart to hear her talk like that and see her sucking her tummy in. I have tried convincing her that she needs to eat to have energy to run around, but she won’t listen.

    1. That’s so sad. The good news is, I suspect, that at such a young age the issue is likely to be more about imitation than a lack of confidence, so once your daughter gets distracted by another worry, or becomes confident in the knowledge that she CAN eat without becoming ill or dying, it should hopefully pass. Best wishes for you both x

  5. A great camapign indeed, I’m loving all the work Dove are doing to help young girls. I used quite a lot of their material the other day in a training session with some mums to help them understand the influence we have on our own kids.

    I’m sat here with a big goofy smile after watching Flea, indeed she does have an aesome heart.

    Mich x

    1. It’s a really thought-provoking campaign, isn’t it? Like Michelle says, there’s so much we can be doing to help support and empower young women and girls.

  6. That made me well up! What an amazing girl. So good to see that she still thinks she’s beautiful at 9 – and that she knows the importance of a beautiful heart. I know my daughter still thinks she’s beautiful at 8 and I hope that will last as long as possible. Because she is beautiful inside and out, and no amount of growing up and pressure from society should change that.
    (Oh and my kids never here my say anything negative about my appearance – although they do hear me being negative about things like forgetfulness and burning food!)

  7. I read this earlier and wanted to comment but it brought up so many issues for me that I didn’t know where to start. Flea’s great. My daughter is only 5 so she’s still in the naive stage and obviously thinks she’s beautiful. I hope both Flea and my DD continue forward to adulthood with such self-confidence and esteem. xx

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment – it’s an emotive issue, for sure, and one that I worry about for the future. It’s so hard to know how to protect that confidence they come into the world with, isn’t it?

  8. I just can’t believe your daughter is 9!

    And you are so right about this campaign – it does make me think twice before I speak. And yes both videos made me weep!

  9. That’s one awesome little munchkin you’ve raised there Sally. I was taken aback by the accent, but if anything it makes her even more perfect 🙂

    Yay for Flea!

  10. Flea is just amazing. Never ever doubt that you have done an awesome job of bringing her up this far! Her video just left me with a big grin on my face (the Dove one made me cry though).

    Going to have to try this with my daughter.

  11. What a great post, and loved the video with Flea. She is so confident, and so she should be as she is beautiful inside out! Loved your remark about cooking…. My wish is to have a personal chef! I am not a bad cook, just don’t enjoy spending ages in the kitchen, rather would be on twitter 😉

  12. How wonderful! God bless her little cotton socks. You’re doing a grand job. I’m just slightly weirded out to hear your voice, that sounds freakily like my own :O

  13. I’m always keen to stress health and fitness for the sake of living life when I change anything about my weight or appearance. And I’m so glad I’ve approached it that way. Now more than ever, having a fit and healthy body is more important in my family than having a body that looks like some perfect version of beauty we see in the media.

    That’s not to say that me and GG don’t both like a bit of bling 😉

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