Thank you Dove for sponsoring this post. How do you define #RealBeauty?
See that gorgeous young man standing beside me? That’s my 17 year old son, Kyle. Kyle is not only easy on the eyes and a pro when it comes to liquid liner application, he’s also completely, totally, and fabulously gay. (You can read more about him and how being his Mom saved me HERE. It’s a good read. Promise.) He is colorful, he is flamboyant, and he is a bit of a diva. I wouldn't change him for all the riches in the world.
Anyway, Kyle is going to be a Senior in High School this year.
I’m not entirely sure how that even happened, or where the time has gone.
It seems like only yesterday, I was kissing his boo-boos and snuggling with him while we watched movies or read a book. Now this young man, who used to fit perfectly nestled in my lap, is a good foot taller than me. And he comes with a heart that is 2 sizes too big for his 6 foot tall body.
You see, Kyle is a kid...Oops, young man...that is going places. He is going to change the world one day, and he's overcome many obstacles to achieve the things he has so far in life. He is a consistent, High Honor Roll Student, a Rotary Scholar, a member of his school's Gay Straight Alliance, and also part of an anti-bullying group, STAND.
Kyle is a MAN, whether I'm ready for it or not, and I couldn't be any more proud of the man he's grown up to be. The man that, despite constant bullying for his sexual orientation and somewhat feminine/gender-fluid appearance at times, maintains a positive attitude and is always there to help others rise above discrimination.
The thing I am most proud about, though?
I am so incredibly proud that my son, who has been subject to bullying, hate crimes, and discrimination, is completely comfortable in his own skin. He embraces himself as is, and does not care what anyone thinks of him.
Kyle wants to rock those colorful skinny jeans? He rocks them.
Add some drama to his look by coloring his hair off the wall, vibrant colors? Bring it on.
Or maybe he wants to make his blue eyes POP with some perfectly winged liquid eyeliner?
I've never seen a more skilled application than his. No, seriously. Check out his eyeliner skills. He makes a mama proud!
You see, Kyle is confident. He understands that beauty...REAL beauty...Is inclusive. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no race or ethnicity. Real Beauty knows no disability, and it knows no sexual orientation.
Real beauty comes from within, and it shines like a light for the world to see. Real beauty is celebrating our own authentic selves. Whether you're straight, gay like Kyle, Bi like me, or anything in between, if you are comfortable in your own skin, you become the very definition of real beauty.
I wish I had understood that at his age. I wish someone would have told me that it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks about me...That the most important thing was that I loved and was kind to myself.
This was a lesson that it's taken me 36 years to learn. Had I known my own beauty, my own worth, when I was Kyle's age? Well, I could have ruled the world, and avoided a lot of heartache.
If I had only known how to recognize my own beauty, I might have avoided a long relationship with a man who, to put it politely, wasn't very nice to me and shattered my self-esteem at an impressionable age.
If I had only known how to recognize my own beauty at 17, I might have avoided battling an eating disorder for almost a decade, all in hopes of fitting into an unrealistic mold that society wants to place women in....A mold that isn't one size fits all. Not even close, in fact.
69% of women agree that they don’t see themselves reflected in advertisements, movies, or television.
The definition of beauty is evolving faster than the industry can keep up with. I happen to agree with this statement, since the LGBTQ community seems to always be painted with the same brush, so to speak, when in reality, there's a whole rainbow of looks and personalities that celebrate real beauty.
If I was as wise as my son at 17, I could have pursued my dreams and done something to change the world for the better...
Or maybe I did, and just didn't realize it?
Maybe I went through all of the things that I went through so I could raise a young man who, despite his sexual orientation and the challenges that come with being out and proud, remains strong. Kind. Humble. Compassionate. A young man who overcame the very thing that has broken so many other LGBTQ youth.
I raised a man whose kindness, empathy, and genuine desire to make the world a better place amaze me on a daily basis. That, I am convinced, will be my greatest accomplishment. I'm raising children that love themselves and love others with their whole hearts. I am raising children that embrace their own real beauty. Just the way I am finally, at 36 years old, after tons of trial and error, am embracing mine.
Glad he got it right on the first try. I'm so proud to be his Mom!
Speaking of inclusive beauty without boundaries, I recently saw a film about an awesome barber named Kylee.
The second film from Dove Real Beauty Productions features Kylee Howell, whose story reveals a powerful message of non-conformity, self-assurance and shedding the narrow definitions of beauty imposed on herself and other women in her community.
You see, Kylee, much like my son Kyle, isn't into obeying traditional gender roles or one-size-fits-all beauty standards. She loves rocking her short 'do, but never found a barber shop where she felt welcomed and accepted for who she is.
So she decided to open her own, in the often conservative state of Utah. This barber shop looks amazing, and the best part? Everyone is welcome. They celebrate ALL forms of beauty there.
Together with creative director Shonda Rhimes and an all-female crew, Dove is shifting the power of storytelling from Hollywood into the hands of real women – watch Kylee’s story and see how she empowers others to find their real beauty.
What does Real Beauty mean to you? How do you empower your kids to be comfortable in their own skin? I'd love to hear your stories and thoughts!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
PR Friendly Mama!
I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud mama of two munchkins and a teen. You can read more about me HERE. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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