The New Domesticity: Beautiful Motherhood
Poised on top of the kitchen table, I slowly turned while my mother measured the hem of my new dress. The whimsical hunter green calico brushed against my bare legs with each turn, and I watched in awe as my mother whipped straight pins in and out of the fabric, deftly storing the extra pins between her teeth. Finally, she lifted her shining eyes and said, “All done!” I twirled on tip-toes and felt beautiful. And in that moment—as in countless others—my mother was especially beautiful to me, too.
Several years later, while studying Women’s History at Washington State University Vancouver, I wrote a paper on the beauty associated with motherhood. I was specifically interested in how mothers were portrayed in literature through the eyes of their daughters. Not surprisingly, beauty was represented in many different ways. Sure, mothers with soft skin and classy wardrobes were considered beautiful. But they were also stunning—and often more so—when they exhibited strength of character.
In anticipation of Mother’s Day, I recently asked a number of friends via Facebook to share about their own mothers: “What made your mother beautiful in your eyes?” The overwhelming response floored me. These women had a lot to say, and it was apparent that beauty marks a child’s mind in many ways. It was inspiring. We women don’t need to fret and fuss in order to “make” ourselves beautiful. Rather it is in honestly, patiently, and humbly nurturing our most pure selves that we reveal and model for our watching children the meaning of true beauty.