I was trying on clothes with reckless abandon in a JC Penney dressing room when I witnessed an unexpected and beautiful mom moment.
As I was shoving my mom thighs into a pair of low rise skinny jeans I had no business wearing, a teenage girl and her mother in the dressing room next door were arguing over dresses. The flurry of hanger activity suggested they’d been there a while. Deep sighs from the daughter and her assumingly overbearing mother made me giggle inside and give a silent thanks that I’ll never be in this position with my sons.
Suddenly the teenage girl begs her mom take her home. “Why are we doing this mom? I look so fat and stupid in everything,” she cried. My heart began to sink as I attempted to peel the skinny jeans from my unforgiving calves. “Mom, I just want to go home,” she sniffed.
Her mom coerced her to exit the dressing room to get a better view of how beautiful she looked in the larger mirror outside the stall. As I gathered up the jeans I would absolutely not be purchasing and exited the stall, I found the mother hugging her overweight daughter in a large full-length mirror. “Honey, you’re beautiful, and special. We’ll spend all day searching for the perfect outfit that makes you feel as beautiful as you are,” says Mom. Gulp.
I pretended not to notice the beautiful mom moment and with tears filling my eyes (hello, PMS) I headed back to the Levi’s display for the next two sizes up. By the time I returned, the teenage girl had changed into a black and white dress with a thin kelly green belt. As she inspected and criticized every angle of her body in that flirty dress, I uncharacteristically stopped to look at her. She looked beautiful. And she deserved to know.
“Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt but you look great in that dress,” I said, “I don’t know what the occasion is, but I’m thinking this dress is perfect on you.” Embarrassed by my candor, she uttered, “Uh, um. Thanks, it’s for a date. Well, my first date.”
“Well, it’s perfect on you and he’s lucky to have such a hot date,” I winked as I headed back into the dressing room.
“See! Even a stranger thinks you look beautiful!” said her mom, “I don’t expect you to love everything about how you look, Michelle. I know how hard that is and I was a teenager once too. I’ve never lied to you Honey, you’re beautiful.” What a mom.
For a mere moment I caught a glimpse of how difficult the teenage years must be for mothers of daughters. To be a mom who was once a teen girl herself, knowing what it was like to be gawky and awkward. To have bad skin and low self-confidence. Comparing herself to others, feeling undeserving, worrying about him noticing you, and ultimately, keeping him interested once he does.
To watch your beautiful daughter wade through the tumultuous journey of self-acceptance can’t be easy. But this mom was there, in it, right next to her daughter, Michelle, and it wasn’t beautiful.
Michelle, I know you’ll never read this, but I really hope your date went well. I saw the beauty your mother desperately hopes you’ll recognize in time. If your date had half a brain, he did too.
Moms of daughters, do you worry about your daughter’s self-acceptance?
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