The Atlantic

Mothers Are Teaching Their Daughters Bad Lessons About Beauty

Women who denigrate their own looks unwittingly pass negative attitudes on to the next generation of girls.
Source: VCG Wilson / Corbis / Getty

Mom guilt, that trendiest of emotions, is generally not my thing. But there is one notable exception: when I catch myself looking at myself disapprovingly in the mirror, showcasing my insecurities about some real or perceived flaw in my appearance while my 18-month-old daughter stands by as my audience of one. I feel shame because she is watching all my cultural, social, and familial conditioning about female appearance play out in front of her. It’s an internal monologue I am not eager to pass down.

As it turns out, my mom guilt may be warranted. Kids are sponges, according to an old truism. They are also monkeys, closely copying what others do. Even as mothers take pains to point out

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