• Wed, Nov 3 2010

What Did Your Mom Teach You About Beauty?

For most of us, our first memory of beauty has something to do with our moms or other women in our lives – the first time you smeared lipstick all over your face, it was probably your mom’s lipstick. And when you clomped around in a pair of grownup shoes that dwarfed your toddler feet, they were probably your mom’s shoes.

For better or for worse, our mothers are often the first people who teach us – consciously or subconsciously – about beauty. I was one of the lucky ones – my mom has a pretty healthy approach to makeup and skincare and taught me to love who I am and quit spending so much time fixating on what was in the mirror. Thanks to her, I inherited a love (bordering on obsession) of lip balm and Pond’s Cold Cream. But some women inherited complexes or insecurities. Reality star Bethenny Frankel has talked about her mom’s eating disorder and how it made Bethenny grow up constantly insecure about her own weight and body.

What did your mom teach you about beauty? Was it a specific product or practice, or was it an attitude? Was it good or bad?

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  • Somnilee

    My mother never taught me anything about beauty, and it’s something I want to remedy when it comes to having my own kids. She’s the kind of woman who rarely wears makeup, but I have no idea how she feels about herself/how she looks. She’s always, through all my life, told me that I’m pretty, but she’s never helped me with hair, or makeup or clothes, it’s something I’ve had to figure out for myself.

    At least I don’t have the kind of mum who tells their kids that they’re ugly, fat etc etc, but it would’ve been nice to have a bit more input!

    • Lauren

      My mother was the same way. She always told me I was pretty, but I bought my first make up product by myself at a CVS without any idea how to use it. I wish that could have been some kind of bonding experience where she helped me pick out the products she liked and showed me how to put eye liner on.

    • Charley

      I agree with wanting to remedy the way I was raised by teaching my daughter about beauty. I just teach her to take care of her body and have good hygiene – the basics.

  • Charley

    My mother was/is very insecure and battles with severe issues of self-worth. She never felt proud to be a woman, instead she did what she could to try to fit in with the “guys”. She does not wear makeup, has a basket full of scrunchies she wears daily, insists on wearing colored (pink, blue, green) socks with her sandals and has never owned a pair of woman’s jeans. As a result my sense of “fashion” has very much been a trial and error type thing. (And I can honestly say I’ve rocked just about EVERY fashion no-no out there at some point during my 28 years – it’s become a badge of honor.)

  • Eileen

    My mom owned some makeup, but she rarely wore it (she played trombone pretty seriously in HS/college, so no lipstick, and only used mascara/eyelash curler when she was going out at night), and she never dieted (moderation was a word I heard so, so often) or worried about what she looked like that I can remember. She always looked nice and was well dressed, but she never dwelled on her appearance. I probably spend more time thinking about my looks than she does, but I like to think that she raised me to be comfortable with how I look and not to spend too much time worrying about being pretty.

  • Carson

    This post instantly brought back a memory of my first driving lesson with my mom when I was fifteen:

    MOM: So, what is the first thing you do when you are about to go driving?
    ME: Put on your seatbelt!
    MOM: No….
    ME: Adjust your mirrors?
    MOM: No…
    ME: Um…
    MOM: You put on your lipstick in case a police officer pulls you over.

    I think that little vignette pretty much sums up ‘what my mom taught me about beauty.’

    • nolalola27

      Haha that’s pretty funny. Hopefully now you put on your seatbelt, adjust your mirrors, and THEN put on the lipstick.

  • nolalola27

    My mom taught me that unconventional beauty was best, and that I was a drop-dead gorgeous stunner. She also taught me to look for men with nice hands, nice eyes, who could grow a nice beard in the winter. I found one!

  • Mads

    I think my mother did a fantastic job teaching me about beauty. She never focused on or really taught me about make-up, although she always used it in moderation with a good lipstick, and stressed the importance of the right colour of foundation. Since I was about twelve she has always tried to drive home the importance of wearing flattering clothes and being ‘elegant’. As I’m pretty curvy, her lessons (particularly while shopping) often brought me to tears, but I’m so glad now that she taught me how still look beautiful (or at least decent) no matter what size I am.

  • Kat

    My mom didn’t teach me anything. I learned from my friends, mostly. I guess if she taught me anything, she taught me to not obsess over how I look.

  • Hall

    My mom taught me that thinner was better, so when I became a size 8 in high school I was super insecure. She didn’t mean to be cruel & never said anything to directly critical, but it was the little digs about how thin she & my younger sister were. Thankfully I’m old enough to not mind now but it was hard being a teenager & thinking of myself as “The Fat Sister/Daughter”. She’s also a very conventional beauty kind of person, so colored skin or anything not Barbie-ish was ugly to her. And it’s funny because we don’t look anything like a Barbie. I plan to work extra hard to make sure my kids never feel ugly, at least never feel like I think they’re ugly, & to point out the beauty in everyone.

  • Jill

    My mother worked hard against teenage vanity, though she never expressly prohibited any kind of style or product, and was mild with suggestions for “personal improvement.” She certainly instilled in me a strong preference for economy and modesty: my old-fashioned aesthetic is based mostly on that and, believe it or not, my blue-collar father’s advice gleaned from his seamstress mother. I’ve definitely had my beautiful moments–occasions when I’ve found a flattering dress by chance or spent the afternoon beginning to understand the best way to apply makeup. But tonight, I’m at home in jeans and an old oversized flannel–and I wouldn’t be at all embarrassed by an unexpected visitor. Thats not to say I don’t yearn for approval from some trusted judge, maybe even more than many women, but I’m content to feel beautiful only sometimes. While my mother’s motto wasn’t “Its what’s inside that counts,” I think she’d be happy with “put your best foot forward.”

  • Stefanie

    My mum taught me that natural is always best but it’s important to go wild sometimes and have fun doing it. She taught me that even though I loved the way black eyeliner looked on my huge eyes, going without it looked even more stunning. She taught me not to obsess over how I look and work with what I’ve got and most importantly; if your skin looks good (clear and pimple free), you will feel a lot better and it’s not hard to look nice.

  • Krysten

    My mom is a stunningly beautiful woman whose always taken really great care of herself, but she has major self-esteem issues. I’ve had to teach myself over the years to love myself despite all the nagging complaints I have in the back of my head. I can hear her voice hating her tummy, hating her breasts, everything about her that is already more attractive than what I have. But I don’t blame my mom for anything though, she’s a human being, just like the rest of us. I’m thankful for the kind of woman she is, she showed me that even the most amazingly gorgeous people can be insecure, and that we all need to love ourselves. I’m now super careful about how I talk about my appearance and my body around my own daughters, so hopefully I can tackle body image issues head-on, and in the future I can raise two confident women who love themselves for who they are.

  • Halima

    At 50, my mom is a style icon. She is conscious of her beauty and sure knows how to look good. She thought me that healthy living is an important part of beauty- eating right and avoiding habits that are detrimental to life. Most importantly, she thought me about inner beauty which comes with been at peace with yourself and others

    Fashion wise, i can say i learnt about combining colours from my mom, who till date will spend time matching her clothes and accessories days before an occasion. she also stressed the importance of dressing appropriate for an event. In all, she has helped shaped my dress sense.

  • Karen

    My mom taught me nothing about beauty nor was she willing to spend any money beyond shampoo, conditioner and soap. She could not understand why I would want to have my hair blown dry after a hair cut. Fast forward to my own children, 2 girls and a boy. I can’t tell you how many times my girls have asked me to do their makeup or hair, though my younger daughter is pretty good with a straigtener. I am always picking up beauty items that I think they will like, sharing my fashion/beauty mags with them, taking trips to Ulta and Sephora. And my son, now 17, got a horrendous haircut last time out and with the help of mom, a blow dryer and some “product” (first time ever for him), we have gotten it under control. I am a Pilates Instructor so most mornings don’t require me to put on a full face, but when I get the chance, I love using cosmetics. I also have a cabinet full of lotions, potions, creams and goo for face and body. I am working it!

  • Ellen W.

    My Mom taught me a few specific things about beauty and 1 very general thing which I think is the most important.
    The specific (that I can think of right now):
    1: Vaseline on your lips and eyelashes (with very clean hands) keeps them from chapping.
    2: Walk well, with a straight back, head up and not “clumping” like a horse.
    3: Don’t pick at your face! (I’m still bad about this.)
    4: Don’t wear shoes that hurt because they make you scowl (and get stress fractures).

    The general:
    What people think of as beauty is generally two things, health and interest.
    Health is the clear skin,shiny hair, light-colored straight teeth stuff and it’s hard if you don’t have the lucky genes. You do what you can and watch out for things that damage your hair/skin/teeth in the long run (sun exposure, smoking and chemically processing your hair).
    Interest is the pink cheeks, “shining” eyes and flushed lips stuff physically but mostly it’s about not just looking at people but seeing them. To listen to them, to sincerely care about everyone you meet as an individual. Even if you can’t like them you can try to understand them. Recognize and respect the value in people. Laugh at their dumb jokes (but not the mean ones). It’s a little woo-woo but absolutely true. My mother is as lovely now in her 60s as she was in her 20s and will be just as lovely in her 80s.

    • Jill

      I don’t know who to thank for this advice, your mom, or you for sharing.

  • Becka

    My mom very rarely wore makeup while I was growing up. When my sister and I became teenagers and starting wearing makeup she told us that the point of makeup was to enhance what you already had, not turn you into someone you’re not. I have my mom to thank for the fact that I never went through the sparkly blue eyeliner phase that my friends went through at 13!

  • Meg

    My mom has always thought she was ugly (umm, hell no) and growing up I was always told how much I looked just like her, so subconsciously it was like I was being told I was ugly, on almost a daily basis. I’m still trying to run from my resemblance to her, I guess for no other reason.