My mom is a strong woman. She has been through a lot and continues to go through a lot. I am amazed sometimes that she still stands up for the next day. She has, at times, crippling anxiety and crushing guilt but still tries her best every day to be with her children and grandchildren.

I had over an hour of tape to go through with my mom’s interview and it was hard to sit through it the first time but listening again was tough. Not because she is my mom, but because I think for the first time I saw her as a woman. No longer was she my mom who would punish me or be so mean to me (don’t all teenagers think that?), she was a woman who had suffered through life and had more emotion than I knew. A lot of the interview focused on her guilt, not beauty at all. She was nervous to come to the interview in fear that I would judge her and think that she caused all my pain. I didn’t feel that way and several times I had to assure her of that. We circled around issues and came back to current issues but I did manage to pull some beauty project related answers from her.

Here is what I learned from my mother:

Her mother taught her that “pretty is as pretty does” meaning if you act ugly, you are ugly. So if she misbehaved as children will do, she was ugly. She knew that the most beautiful girls with the best hair got the most attention.

She knows that true beauty comes from within – it is about who you are and what you do in life. It radiates outward. But still remembering what her mom taught her, she does believe that you can be beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside and you can’t hide it.

Growing up, her family was big – 6 kids and she was the youngest girl. She was teased a lot by her sisters and brothers as siblings will do about how she looked different than the rest of them. She was light skinned and blond hair. Her family had a lot of laughs joking around with each other.

She now recognizes that her mom had anxiety as well and would strike out verbally at her kids when her anxiety was high.

My mom has a lot of guilt and shame for the mistakes she felt she made as a mother. She is working on forgiving herself and recognizing she is not to blame for our grown emotions.

She just wants peace in her life and for her kids.

She feels most beautiful when she is around her grandchildren because she can be free and laugh with them. Her husband is also someone that makes her feel loved and beautiful He loves her unconditionally and at first she was scared of it but has grown to trust it.

When she feels less than beautiful you can assume it is because she is having anxiety or thinking about the past.

She can’t celebrate her beauty quite yet as she is a work in progress. I feel that the day she can forgive herself and stop carrying around shame and guilt is the day that my mom will be the most beautiful she can be.



  1. Thank you Shawna for making me understand myself better as I read this article you so gently wrote…..I did in fact feel almost beautiful but most of all feel extremely lucky to have you as my daughter….you are BEAUTIFUL!!

  2. Wow ! I can relate to allot you feel Marlene! Butive always thought you were and still are beautiful inside and especially out!!

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