finding meaning

Alright, today I am about to get deeply personal in here. You may notice a theme in my work, a theme of finding beauty in our love, recognizing our own beauty as it is seen by those who love us. There is a reason that this matters so much to me. I feel a little guilty "outing" my own mom in here, but I know that this is a battle that she shares with so many other women, and so many other mothers. The thing is, my mom has battled with self-image and self-worth her entire life. As a young girl, I was aware of the fact that she didn't consider herself beautiful, and that knowledge affected me in some undeniable ways. Thankfully (and certainly at least partly thanks to her), I didn't fight the same battles she fought, but I have always felt a certain pain that she could never see her beauty the way that I could.

When I see my mother I see a sweet dimple that reminds me of every happy moment that we have shared that made her smile. I see deep, multifaceted eyes that have given me strength in moments of pain.  I see the soft bosom that held me tight. I see quiet wisdom and a silly wit. I see a patience that I still aspire to attain. Sometimes I see the pain, but I also see the strength that has come from that pain. I see pure beauty, and it pains me to know that she struggles to see it in herself.

My daughters remind me often of the pure way in which children see beauty, complementing me on the beauty of the simplest things, like a plain jersey knit skirt that I have thrown on because I am out of clean pants. There was a phase when my eldest daughter emphasized realism in her drawings by including my acne in every illustration of me. It shook me a little to think that was such a defining feature. I came to realize that to her, they were marks of beauty, and it forced me to question my own self image and standards of beauty. This mother's day, in preschool, she answered a fill-in-the-blank about me, "My mom is as pretty as... sunflowers", not bad hey. You know what she calls sunflowers? Dandelions. And they are her favourite. I think that about sums it up.

What it all comes down to it, every standard that we place on beauty is something that we have been "taught". The changes in beauty standards throughout the years, and the differences between cultures make it clear that anything can be beautiful if we look at it as such. So what should we see as beautiful? What should we teach our children to see as beautiful (or allow them to teach us?)

I think that our first instincts of beauty are the most meaningful; simple joys and loving people. That is the beauty that I am reminded to find in every day. That is the beauty that I wish to convey in the art that I create of your lives.

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