When Your Daughter Doubts Her Beauty

My daughter, at the ripe old age of 11, stared at her reflection in the mirror as I helped her prepare for an event.

But what she saw in the mirror isn’t what I saw in the mirror, much to my dismay.

Out of the blue, she started critiquing herself. Naming and nitpicking every flaw she didn’t like. It broke my heart to hear this, but when I interrupted, telling her how beautiful she is, she got defensive and annoyed. No compliment could change her mind, and the more I talked the more irritated she became.

That’s when I realized my daughter has an internal battle she’ll wrestle with like almost every female I know. She has a critic in her head that will sometimes cloud her thinking and distort her self-image. My instinct was to save her, to keep spurting affirmations and prove her analysis wrong, but since my talking made matters worse, I left it at this:

“You are beautiful, and I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. I wish you could see the truth. My prayer for you is that you’ll learn to see yourself through God’s eyes, because He loves you so much.”

I learned this insight the hard way. You see, there was a night several years ago when I was bashing myself in front of a mirror, and my husband had to listen to me.

We were getting ready for a date, and I was in a foul mood. I’d been working on deadlines and not taking care of myself, and my frustration came to a head as I stared in the mirror and tore myself apart.

My husband, being the smart husband he is, told me, “You are beautiful. Why can’t you see that? There is nothing wrong with you. You’re an amazing woman and I’m the luckiest guy to have you.”

His flattery lingered for two seconds – but then went in one ear and out the other. I refused to listen and continued the bashing. After a little more mental abuse, I noticed him staring. His eyes were sad and he’d suddenly turned quiet, looking at me in a way that revealed how much it bothered him to hear me mistreat myself.

In a serious tone he said, “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. I don’t know what else to say to convince you that you’re wrong.”

Whoa. The words hit a nerve, and only later would I realize that it felt like God speaking to me, telling me how much it pained Him to hear me insult what He’d created.

As irony would have it, I was working on a book at the time to tell teen girls about God’s extravagant love. Clearly some of the messages – you are God’s masterpiece; God loves you at maximum capacity even on your worst days; if you could see the way God looks at you, you’d never doubt your worth again – had yet to sink into my own heart.

What I hoped to teach my teenage readers was a message I needed to accept myself.

I don’t know about you, but I want my daughters to know they’re beautiful because they’re made in God’s image. I want a healthy self-love that propels them to live their best life possible with confidence and courage.

And while I’ll always affirm them and counter the critic in their head that fuels self-doubt and lies, I also know my influence is limited. More critical than any dialogue I have with my girls is the dialogue they have with themselves. What they wrap their mind around and slowly internalize as they stare into a mirror.

I can’t make my daughters believe they’re beautiful or convince them they’re wrong when their minds get distracted by flaws (perceived or real). As my husband learned with me, it’s not that simple. What I can do is speak truth and pray for God to open their heart to that truth. I can pray for wisdom and clarity, asking God to help my daughters see themselves through His eyes, through the lens of a Father who beams proudly at the sight of them. 

Learning to embrace one’s beauty is a lifelong process. It’s often two steps forward, one step back. So whether it is your daughter who’s struggling with self-image – or you, her evolving mom – find your hope in the light of God, who gently leads us to self-acceptance so we can celebrate what He created. 


Scripture to encourage your daughter & post on her mirror:

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

“The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’” Matthew 8:27

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. “James 4:8

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” Genesis 1:31

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:11

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…” Psalm 139:14 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:19

“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” Job 19:25


Thanks for reading this message. Please share it on social media, or click over to the Girl Mom podcast to listen to it audibly.

My new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter is now available, and it’s getting a fantastic response as moms read it and tell their friends to get it. You can find it everywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Audible. What a privilege it’s been to narrate my first book for moms!   

My two books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, have been used widely across the U.S. for group studies. For more posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on FacebookInstagram and the Girl Mom podcast.



Posted by Kari on October 25, 2020

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