I was in the kitchen while my two daughters—ages 2 and 4—sat in front of me eating breakfast. Always curious about what happens in their little minds, I stayed quiet to give space for them to share their thoughts, knowing something conversation-worthy would arise. My oldest soon spoke up.
“Mom, do you love your face?”
She asked the question so matter-of-factly, I wondered if she was reciting it from somewhere. Apparently I was panicking because I asked for clarification on this incredibly straight-forward question. She asked again, a different way.
“Do you like what your face looks like?”
I found myself stuck between answering in the way I would want them to respond and not veering from the honesty and integrity I feel insistent on maintaining with them. Two sets of big blue eyes fixed deeply on the face in question.
“I try very hard to love my face,” I said, deciding to take the honest route.
A reel suddenly played in my head of all the different versions of my face I’ve tried to love or decided to hate. I remembered wishing my freckles away in grade school or wishing zits away in junior high. I saw my high school self, sitting at my full-length mirror while trying to apply liquid eyeliner because that’s what the girls did who walked around like they loved their face.
I remembered when I realized I loved my blue eyes and my larger-than-average grin that gives a valiant effort at revealing every tooth.
I saw exactly where I was when, in my 30’s, I smiled at the first sight of my summer freckles.
The slideshow must have been quick because when I returned back to reality, I still held my girls’ attention. I went on to tell them that I am loving my face more and more, but sometimes it’s hard to do.
“But do you like your eyes?” my oldest daughter asked.
I like my eyes, I told her. But I haven’t always loved my eyes.
It’s difficult to explain fluidity to a four-year-old, but this is what I’ve learned when it comes to loving my face, my self. It would be easy to declare I have arrived(!) and now love my face, know my self, and only believe I am strong, brave, bold, and worthy of good things. That’s an easy message to post on Instagram but far more difficult to truly believe and embody. For me, there is no once and for all when it comes to self-love. There are days when it comes easy, and there are days when it feels like a losing battle. But, as I will always try to show and tell my girls, it’s worth the fight.
So in the kitchen on that early morning, the three of us sat together and shared what we love about our faces on that day. It may not be a once-and-for-all feeling, but today we’re fighting for the love.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies—she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and their two daughters. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.