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My Face/Her Face

by Tracee Sioux

I am deeply struck by this photograph which I found on About Face, a non-profit company which combats negative images of women in the media.

Without taking a right or wrong stance about plastic surgery, this photograph of a mother and her daughters speaks volumes about what self-hatred, self-criticism and self-loathing costs the collective conscience of femininity.

Remember when we found out on Friends that Rachel had a nose job? It seemed like a kind enough thing to do for herself when she was single and a completely autonomous person. But, then she had a baby girl and the issue came up again. It was quite funny to watch her consider, “What if the baby gets my old nose?”

Funny. But, in a practical sense what if she does? What if she gets your old nose? How much harder is it to learn to love yourself if you go through life with a nose even your own mother finds unacceptable?

Who then is responsible for the daughter’s self esteem issue about her nose? While many might come back to a post like this and say, “Well, just give the daughter a nose job.” Sure, eventually. But, she has to hate her nose until it stops growing in her late teens.

My hypothesis is that it’s much more effective to learn to love our own nose, face, and breasts than to combat poor self worth in our daughters, created by our own feelings of self-loathing.

It is also notable that the feelings about my own appearance have become significantly more positive now that I can look at my daughter’s face and see the beauty there. To me, she has not one single flaw. The features she shares with me have become more attractive to me by virtue of being on her.

That said, many women will get plastic surgery to fix what they perceive as “flaws.” I don’t want to argue the moral position that you shouldn’t, certainly you have to make your own decision.

That said, I do think it’s worth asking, what then do you plan to say to your daughter if she shares the same perceived flaw?

Read more about how our feelings about our own appearance deeply effect our daughters feelings about themselves in Self-Loathing Sin Bank.

16 replies
  1. Avril_08 says:

    Wow! What a great blog! For most of my teenage and adult life I have been dissatisfied with a few of my facial features. That is..until the day my son was born. I was so elated that he looked just like me!

    *Flawed features and all*

    To this day, I have yet to look in the mirror and see something I hate, because I could never look in my own child’s eyes and tell him that he is anything short of beautiful.

    Thank you so much for this empowering post.

  2. Tracee says:

    I feel the same way Avril.

    As women I think the goal should be to look at our own selves and think as positively as we do about our children.

    When I look at my kid’s faces I think God is a genius whose imagination surpassed my own. The combination of DNA in my kids appearances is simply perfection.

    Should we not be as kind to our selves?

  3. Lauren says:

    Oh this is so true.

    I inherited my mother’s body type – very petite with very small breasts. She got a boob job when I was in high school, and I didn’t feel very good about my breasts for a few years. She still talks a lot about how embarrassed she used to be to go to the beach in a swimsuit because her breasts were so small. Consequently, I wasn’t really comfortable in swimsuits – or really in anything – in public, because I felt I should be ashamed of my breasts.

    I can also offer up a sort of interesting flip side. My mom likes to make fun of the traits I didn’t inherit from her. My siblings and I all got my dad’s chin, and we’ve never heard the end of it.

  4. Tracee says:

    Lauren that’s a very interesting perspective.

    I think what you say is important for women to hear. As mothers we need to be cautious about criticizing our own appearance, other’s appearance, our children’s appearance and even our spouses.

    We can’t expect to hate ourselves and expect our daughters to love themselves. That’s just bad math.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I don’t know if breast reduction counts as cosmetic surgery. My mother had a breast reduction when she was younger than I am. I inherited her breasts (they’re gigantic, to put it nicely).

    She got hers taken down because she grew up with men double her age and older staring her down, making comments on their size. She told me that, no matter how much money she and my father had, they would always pay for a breast reduction, should I want one.

    I never have, but I grew up not noticing these things. My mother was the first to point out to me that they were rather large, and since then, they’ve become my favorite joke – “My bra could totally eat that bra as a snack.”

    I’ve known, all my life, that my mother hated hers. I like mine. I think it also comes with the circumstances under which someone grows up. To her, they were nothing but a hindrance, they brought her unwanted attention. To me, they’re no problem, as long as I’m not talking about buying clothes.

  6. Tracee says:


    What you’re talking about – the very different feeling about breasts in your family – could have a lot to do with trends in fashion magazines and culture. For instance, your mother was probably an exception with such large breasts. I don’t know how old she is, but Twiggy and her flat chest may have been all the rage. Large breasts may have only been in porno movies and everyone, but everyone used to comment on Dolly Parton’s huge knockers.

    I don’t know your age or where you live – but big boobs aren’t the exception anymore now that breast implants are so big as a fashion trend. If you go to LA it seems nearly every woman has had a breast enlargement. Quite a number of my friends have had boob jobs in middle America.

    Which could account for your feeling so normal. I mean, you’re not just normal – you’re ahead of the game and didn’t even have to go in for plastic surgery.

    It would make sense that your mother would have felt sexualized and objectified by her genetically, abnormally large bust, but you feel great about them because you’re not abnormal – you’re just hot.

    Now, I don’t know you, and I’m assuming a lot and taking a lot of liberties with your situation and I hope I don’t offend. I surely don’t mean to.

    It does seem rather restrictive to me that women’s feelings about ourselves are dictated by social norms and fashion.

    We have no control over our DNA, so unless we develop a self esteem independent of fashion and culture we are doomed to chop and cut and slice ourselves to meet a beauty standard and feel good about ourselves. And where does it end?

    What if, Twiggy flat chest comes back and your daughter inherits your big boobs and she wants a reduction?

    Worse still what if Twiggy comes back, then Pamela Anderson comes back, then Twiggy, then Pamela – say over the span of 20 years. Do we, as women visit the surgeon so we can feel good about ourselves every generation or every five years? Do we start to think of plastic surgery as something everyone can and should have to Keep Up With The Kardashians? Trends move fast and some tragic mistakes have already occured – I bring you poor Meg Ryan’s lips.

    I think women, as a collective conscious, should learn resist this type of internalization of culture and teach our daughters that technique. I mean really, we loved Meg’s lips to begin with.

    To love ourselves, as we are, is a skill we desperately need to acquire and work on. If we don’t have it, it’s difficult to pass it down to our daughters.

    Lindsay, I’m so glad that your mother was sensitive to protecting you from feeling sexualized and objectified. And it does sound like you have a good self esteem about your body. I hope you pass that down to your daughters.

  7. candeelady - Bonding Moms & Tweens says:

    I never even considered plastic surgery when I was young and luckily my daughter is in the same mind set. Skinny and small boobs the both of us. Now that I am aging and sagging – eyelids and chin – THAT is bothering me. I’ll have to live with it until I win the lottery! But even if I had the $$$ I think I would be too worried of the potential face lift “gone wrong” nightmare to try it.

  8. Anna says:

    I am so glad to have found your blog tonight! I have considered buying a rack since high school, but especially now that my breasts have deflated when I stopped nursing – but I have completely changed my mind now, considering that my daughter, even though she’s only two, may have the same concerns someday, and I want her to love herself. Suddenly my boobs look great! Thank you!

  9. Anna says:

    Thank you! I’ll look more closely at it sometime when my little brother and his friends aren’t here. 😉 Maybe it’d be good for them to know, but they’re minors, and I don’t want to deal with that…
    I also really appreciated your post about Cinderella – what she should have done instead of waiting around for Prince Charming. I hate to admit it now (but am realizing how common it actually is) but I honestly didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to wait around for Mr Perfect – I was at least 18 when I finally figured it out, and already had a baby with Mr Abusive. (We’re split up, no worries.) I had been thinking that I’d teach my baby “you are not Cinderella – you don’t need to be rescued”, but now I’ll add that you can be Cinderella, just take things a bit differently than she did!
    Thanks again!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] self-deprecation is becoming a problem in your house please read My Face/Her Face and Self-Loathing Sin […]

  2. […] in the month I got an email from DJ Nelson saying that my article My Face/Her Face had changed the way she thought about cosmetic […]

  3. […] consider how their daughters will feel before reconstructing perceived flaws through surgery in My Face/Her Face I have to wonder how far I must take the you’re beautiful the way God made you […]

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