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How to Handle Your Kid's Awkward Phases

An Open Letter to the Moms Who Embraced Their Kids' "Awkward" Phases

Dear Mom,

Thank you for allowing me to look "bad" throughout the years.

I can't tell you how many times I've looked back at old photos from junior high or #TBT social media posts and laughed in embarrassment or just cringed entirely. When those photos were taken, I thought I looked fierce with a messy attempt at a smoky eye. I also believed that it was possible to straighten my unruly hair in less than 10 minutes and that it could look "Kardashian-level straight" — I was wrong. You could have easily stopped me, and I would have been instantly saved from the humiliation that would follow upon looking back at the photographic evidence 10 years later. Except you didn't. I'm certain you had many opinions about my look, but you let me believe that I looked absolutely stunning.

You built up my confidence without me even knowing. One way you did so that stands out was when I entered high school and embraced the independence that came with getting a driver's license . . . and ate junk food constantly. This convenient method of getting whatever food I felt like at that moment clearly took a toll on my body, and I gained about 10 pounds. Although the weight gain was likely obvious to others, I never noticed, and you didn't let me notice. Instead of calling me out on my unhealthy habits, you led by example. You never talked badly about your own body, you ate healthy at home, and you worked out in moderation. You allowed me to have total control of my body and my life without any judgment. Having the freedom to choose what I did with my body let me learn from past mistakes and taught me to obtain a healthy balance of eating clean and enjoying pasta whenever I damn well please.

You allowed me to have total control of my body and my life without any judgment.

I've gotten older, and I've loved myself through the ups and downs. Even during times when my workout routine comes to a temporary halt and I gain a little weight, I still appreciate my body through thick and thin. And even though I've come to love fashion and makeup as fun forms of expression, I'm not done making style mistakes. I still dye my hair the wrong color and even tried to pull off a nose ring that clearly didn't work — but I know you'll never criticize me.

It's a common reality for me to witness friends struggle with body image issues due to the feedback they received from their mothers growing up, and it breaks my heart. I seriously can't be more thankful that instead of focusing on complimenting my body or my style, you chose to compliment my achievements in life. You are the reason I see through unrealistic expectations and embrace myself as I am.

So, on behalf of all the young women out there who fully embrace being perfectly imperfect — I want to say thank you to our moms, especially mine, for teaching us self-love and confidence from a young age. Thanks for letting us wear what we wanted, allowing us to dye our hair whatever color we wanted, and reminding us that we're so much more than the stretch marks on our thighs. We don't all look like society "expects" us to, but we look (and feel) pretty damn amazing anyway.

Your daughter

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Allison Knorp
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