the standard of beauty

carroll family


Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.

Proverbs 31:25

These boys of mine? They don’t know the words that I know. The ones that swarm around in my head. The ones I’ve battled since I was in the third grade and was first aware of body image.

Words like fat.

And ugly.

And flabby.

And frizzy.

Chubby and awkward and any other word that we’ve all told ourselves at some point in our lives.

And it’s likely that some guy said it to us along the way, too.

I am so lucky to be married to a man who praises me and calls me beautiful. He loves what’s on the outside, and he especially loves what’s on the inside. (Though there is plenty to not love on the inside.)

And while my darling husband has a responsibility to teach my boys how to talk to girls and how to talk about girls, I set the example.

By loving myself, and refraining from putting myself down in front of them, I am saving them from the idea that women are to be critiqued and judged and picked apart.

The truth is, I do pick myself apart. I do want to lose the last bit of baby weight and get back into my old clothes. I want to feel like the version of me that I can’t forget. The physical pre-baby version. And maybe I’ll work hard enough to do that for myself.

But that’s my issue. I never want to give my boys permission to do that. By loving myself right where I am, and allowing my husband to love me right where I am without making excuses about my post-baby body, or two-day hair, I am showing Hudson and Hayes to look deeper. To love people for more than what they see on the outside.

That just because their friends think it’s fun to compare and critique women, it’s okay if they don’t play along.

I want them to see a mom who works hard, who is comfortable with herself, and most importantly, let the smile on my face and the joy in my life define the way people see me on the outside. The presence of Jesus Christ in my heart and in my life and in my actions.

Moms, how are you talking to your boys and girls about beauty? What are you showing them?

*This post was originally published on

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  1. says

    I think it’s very important to be a good example for those you have such influence over! I never realized how important make up was in girls’ lives till I went to beauty school, and there were all these younger, 18 and 29 year old girls who were afraid to go out, not willing to come to school without their makeup on. So….I decided to hardly ever wear makeup at school. To at least be one person in their lives who would say that “you are still you without the makeup, you don’t need to feel ashamed of your natural face!”

  2. says

    Beautiful post. And so true! Moms need to set the example, and I can’t wait for the day when I have kids and am given the opportunity to show them how to love others. Those are such great and important moments. Rock on, Momma! 🙂

  3. Jessica says

    Having two little girls has made me SO much nicer to myself (well, at least out loud). I don’t use words like ugly, and instead of immediately asking the negative about how I look (does this make me look fat?), I re-phrase and just say “does this go together, or how does this look on me?” It makes a difference on how I feel about myself and I hope it helps them to grow up with a healthier self-image. As a mother of girls, I still worry if I use the words “you’re so pretty” too much. I want them to know how much I adore them and how beautiful I think they are but is there harm in those words? Being a mommy is such a huge responsibility!

  4. says

    LOVE this! Self worth, particularly with weight as well, is constantly on my mind as a girl mom. The moment I knew I was having a daughter, I vowed she would never learn to criticize herself “like mommy does”. Such pressure to be a parent and instill strong values, but this is an important one! You saying you’re teaching your boys to essentially respect women makes me beam, but will not mean much if the girl moms out there don’t teach their daughters to love themselves first. And the best way-the only way-for all of us to do that is to lead by example.

    Thank you, Erin.

  5. says

    i have tried to be so much nicer to myself since having a little girl, and then i realized when james was born that it was just as important for him to hear me be nice to myself too! after all, he’ll have a wife and maybe daughters one day. i try not to make my first compliment “you’re so cute!” or something to that effect (about physical appearance) when i talk to my children and others and instead focus on a characteristic…while it is important to acknowledge one’s unique beauty, there’s so much more beauty beyond the surface! great post, erin!

  6. says

    My three year old asked me a few days ago “How much do I weigh?” It caught me off guard, but I didn’t know what to answer. I KNEW what to answer, but I found myself embarrassed. My brain said “too much” but my heart said to proudly tell her 156 – my weight. I kind of just redirected and we moved along but it really got me thinking. I posted something on facebook about it – just because I KNOW I need to train and tell her the right things, but it wasn’t that I cared what she thought. She doesn’t even understand what the number means. I realized more so that I am not proud of myself and that I hold myself accountable to what society tells me is pretty and normal. I need to stop comparing myself to magazine models and instead focus myself on be a godly woman.

  7. says

    Beautiful post. It’s a lovely reminder that our children are a product of their environment. Quinn is starting to mimick everything we do so we must remember to do (and say) the right things. It’s also a wonderful thing when we’re nice to ourselves. It’s ok to admit you like the way you look. It’s not vain, it’s healthy.

  8. says

    This post is wonderful. I grew up in a household that was completely different from what you just described and it definitely left a lasting mark on me! I don’t have any children yet but, when I do, I am going to do everything that I possibly can to make sure they never question if they’re “good enough”

  9. says

    This is a struggle for me. Both my husband and I are overweight. And although I want my son to look deeper and I am careful to not put myself down in front of him, I also don’t want him to think that being overweight is okay. I feel like I’m always counting points or calories and he sees that. It’s a tough act to balance.

  10. says

    I love this Erin! I always read articles about how women need to make sure they don’t talk negatively about themselves in front of their daughters, nieces, etc, and I always think about how my boys need to value beauty inside and out as well as avoid the negativity we put on looks in our society.

  11. says

    We need to have coffee next time your in LA. I’ve been beating myself up so much lately, when I should really focus on the fact that I have a hubby who loves me and a God who wants me to serve him. I can’t cripple myself with negative mind chatter about body image.

  12. says

    Ooooooh I Love love LOVE this! And I need this reminder Every. Stinking. Day! Know I’m a little late to the party with reading this post, but it’s timed well for my life right now. Thank you for sharing!

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