Wine-O: an individual who enjoys drinking wine more than most (according to Urban Dictionary).
Wine is good and in my opinion, being called a Wine-O has always been a compliment. However, being a Wine-O took on a very different meaning for me on July 27, 2013. That's the day Emma Grace was born and I became a very specific type of Wine-O: a Port Wine (stain)-O - an individual who enjoys her daughter's beauty more than most (according to me).
When Emma Grace was born one of the first things we noticed about her perfect little body was her beautiful birthmark. We found out days later via our pediatrician that it's actually called a Port Wine Stain, which is a birthmark that looks like wine has splashed on your skin. It's a type of birthmark that according to KidsHealth.org only 3/1,000 kids get. As it's been explained to us, this is the type of birthmark that will darken in color as EG gets older and will grown with her body.
So, being a woman and knowing how society defines beauty, this little birthmark has been something that since day one has been a little symbol that we need to be diligent about the way we would define beauty for our girls (girl at the time).
As far as the birthmark goes, we decided that we would call it by it's proper name (birthmark or Port Wine Stain), we would let Emma Grace discover it on her own, we would always discuss it as being part of how God made her who she is - beautiful, and we would let it be no big deal from the beginning. So far it's been really neat to see how God has been working in Emma Grace as she processes what it is, where it is, and that it will be part of her physical body forever. She first noticed it about a year ago and told us something was stuck on her leg. She would ask us from time to time to wipe it off, but was never really concerned about it. Then, just a couple of weeks ago she told me that God made it pink and purple for her (her favorite colors). Yep, I almost cried. What a beautiful perspective.
I am by no means an expert on how to define beauty. Rather, I have just begun to create some guidelines on how my husband and I will define "beauty" for our daughters in this media-driven world. The list below is simply the beginning of my thought process on this subject. It's a compilation of advice from books, articles, personal experience, and my faith.
Defining 'Beauty' for our Daughters:
1. Beauty comes first and foremost through God's eyes - it is so easy to get caught up in how the world defines beauty, but we're turning to the Bible verse Proverbs 31:30 to guide us, which states "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." We hope that our girls will not look to define themselves by the way they look, but rather as a child of God.
2. Give specific compliments about the physical and her character - we find ourselves falling into the easy compliments of saying "you're so pretty" or "you're so beautiful," to our girls, but we're trying to adjust the way we compliment to praise our girls for their intelligence, their actions, and even the physical. For example, giving compliments such as "your hair looks so pretty in braids," or "we love how you chose pink socks to match your dress," or "wow, I could tell you were working hard in swimming because you were kicking so hard." We hope that our girls will feel beautiful by the way we build them up.
3. Praise her - this one seems to piggyback off of #2, but we want to give intentional praise not just for successes our girls see, but for the efforts they put into what they do. For example, praise like "Wow, Emma Grace, you just put on your pants all by yourself. I am so proud of you," or "I like the way you tried to put your socks on. You worked hard and even though you couldn't quite figure it out, we can keep trying and you'll get it one day!"
4. Lead by example - Alrighty ladies, this one is tough. I hope that I can show my daughter's how to feel beautiful and confident in their own skin by modeling how to accept compliments and by avoiding the temptation to self-criticize. Imagine what my daughters will think of beauty if all they hear me say is "I feel fat," or "I hate the way my hair is," or "if I had thinner arms I would look better." What would they think if my husband told me he thought I looked beautiful and I responded by saying "no, I'm fat." This one will be a constant effort on my part.
5. Monitor what they see (i.e. social media) - this one is so tough given the world we live in where even toddlers own and can operate smart phones. I think there is still something to be said though about monitoring what your children see on television, what they see in magazines, what they hear others talk about. After all, this is how the world defines beauty - through these outlets.
6. Celebrate what makes them different - celebrate your child physically, mentally, and spiritually. Let them know that they are unique and special and all the parts of them - their mind, their body, their soul, all of that makes them the beautiful person they are.
7. Learn your child's love language - this one is just as tough as trying to love your spouse via their love language. It's been a learning experience to love Emma Grace's via her love language because it differs from mine. I am big time touch and Emma Grace is quality time and very much not touch. But, when spend 30 minutes intentionally playing with her in her room or swimming versus trying to give her a hug, we see a night and day difference in her attitude and happiness.
Ultimately, we pray she find her identity and happiness in Christ and not her looks or anything else. We feel like newbies trying to navigate this world of parenting and bringing up daughters, so if you have any advice, we are all ears!
xx - anna