Letters to Hadley: Looks

"You are imperfect. Permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful." -Amy Bloom

Dear Hadley,

The world has a habit of judging people on their looks. I wish it were different, but it's not. You'll quickly learn that everyone has an opinion on what's pretty and it's virtually unavoidable to not feel the weight of those expectations.

When I was younger, I thought my ears and nose were too big. I thought my eyes were too small. I was sure my jaw wasn't quite right. I remember feeling like I didn't look like the rest of the girls. I spent hours studying my features, wishing they could all be different.

It took me a lot of agonizing and even more growing up to really understand what a gift it is that I look like myself and that everyone else looks like themselves. You get what you're born with and then you just have to learn how to take care of it, live in it and eventually, love it. It's good to remember that how you look is all just a mix of great chance, some hard work (so much water and exercise!) and a whole lot of acceptance.

I don't worry about my face nearly as much as I used to. Which is great, because less time criticizing myself in the mirror means more time freed up to think about better stuff -- like who I want to date or how I want to spend my afternoon or whether I want chicken or steak for dinner.

One thing I've learned is that it's helpful to just accept that you won't always love all of you.

You have to carry your body and face around every single day. It's such a commitment! And like any relationship, there are going to be ups and downs. Depending on the day, the week, the way the stars are aligning in the sky, you might scrutinize your face, your thighs, the mole on your left ankle. We all do it. Sit with those conflicts. Mindfully wade through them. Wrestle them down.

I think it's also really important to find at least one thing to love with unwavering certainty. Something to hold on to while you're wrestling with the rest.

I think you'll love your eyes. I can already tell that they look like your mom's and I've always thought hers were the most magical.

But if not your eyes, maybe you'll love your strong chin. Or the way the freckles align like constellations on your forearm. (I hope you love your freckles, because you'll get new ones every summer, and it's easier to just love them instead of letting them bother you forever.)

If not any of those things, please promise me that you will at least remember to love your feet.

I've noticed the way you stand, so stable and steady -- you barely budge when Henry The Dog runs into you. I bet you'll grow up to have strong feet with high-arches, like we all do, and no matter how you're feeling about your face on any given day, your perfect feet will keep you steady, grounding your beautiful being to all the things in this world that are far more meaningful than the way you look.

I love you, little one.

Aunt Liz
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