Initially, she looked most like my husband. But today, at 6 years old, she is
a little version of me. Well, a mini-me with blond hair. Watching her is like
viewing home movies of myself. It's a little freaky.
The other night during
bedtime, my daughter asked which features she had inherited from me and which
had come from my husband.
She already knew she has my
eyes. I told her I wasn't sure about her nose, but I think she has her Daddy's
smile. We believe her hair color comes from his side of the family, too.
Neither of us has ever been blond, but his brother and mother were.
I had the same dimples as a
child that she does now. "And you have my ears," I told her. Then I sucked in my
breath, realizing I could have just opened Pandora's Box.
You see, while my daughter
has the ears I was born with, were she to compare, she might have difficulty
finding the resemblance. Because when I was in my early 20s, I had my ears surgically pinned back. The official procedure name is "bilateral otoplasty."
I can't say the surgery improved my own self-esteem, but I do like my "new" ears.
And suddenly, I felt ashamed.
I'm afraid to admit to her I had plastic surgery, because I worry about how it
will impact her self-esteem. If I felt the need to change my ears, won't she believe
there is something wrong with hers?
Will she become
self-conscious about them? Embarrassed? Worried about what others think?
Self-esteem can be a fragile thing. I remember struggling with it growing up,
especially in high school. My daughter has not experienced any of those issues
yet; I definitely don't want to contribute to them.
Worst of all, I don't really
feel I have a decent explanation for why I had the procedure. My ears weren't that bad. I wasn't particularly
self-conscious about them.
My parents had offered to
pay for the surgery several times during my childhood, but I always declined.
Then, when I graduated from college, they offered one more time. And for
reasons I can't really describe, I accepted. I guess I figured it I could have
them "fixed," why shouldn't I?
I have been happy with the
results. I can't say the surgery improved my own self-esteem, but I do like my "new" ears.
Now, years later I find myself worried about how my decision will affect my young daughter.
I have always been honest with my child, particularly when asked a direct question. But I am
wondering if this is something I should keep from her—or perhaps defer until, and unless, she puts two and two together.
What if she voluntarily expresses negative
feelings about her ears at some point? Or someone teases her about them? Would the knowledge I had mine altered help or hurt? Is there any good reason for her to know?
How do I help my daughter navigate that knowing my own vanity drove me to go "under the knife"?
What if she decided she wanted to have the same procedure? How would I feel about that? Would I allow her to have plastic surgery, and if so, at what age?
I want my daughter to be comfortable in her own
skin. To stand tall and be proud of who she is. I always tell her it is what's
inside that counts. Beauty comes from within.
But let's be honest, we care about how we look.
Part of that is human nature, I believe, and it is definitely reinforced by our
How do I help my daughter navigate that knowing
my own vanity drove me to go "under the knife"? I don't have the answer right
now, but I am going to be spending a lot of time searching my heart for one.