Daddy, Tell Me I'm Beautiful by Alyscia Cunningham

Growing up, my household was far from perfect. As a matter of fact, my family fit the category of a dysfunctional family. My parents experienced certain challenges in the childhood causing them to be a product of their environment.
It wasn't until I get older that I appreciated, despite my father circumstances due to his upbringing, that he instilled self-confidence within me which I believe helped me throughout my life. My father also encouraged me to honor my feelings, always seemed to understand and relate to my intuition/spiritual experiences, told me that I must tolerate nothing less than respect and simply love who I am...Unapologitically me.
Let me take you back...
I remember as a little girl, putting a towel on my head and feeling, in that moment, that I a had beautiful long hair. It felt good. (I know some of you reading this now did the same. It was one of those things that many little brown girls did.)
Although my dad would let me be in that moment, he would gently tell me my hair is thick and beautiful and go on saying that many women wished they had hair like mine.
In all honestly, despite my fathers had good intention, I didn't feel as pretty as he told me. It was difficult seeing myself pretty when I didn't witness little girls that looked like me on high platforms. Although my father pumped "beautiful" in my head, the media, my classroom and society in general was a impact on my self-esteem.
At the age of 11 and feeling a boost of self-confidence, my aunty told me something that crumbled my self-love.  While transitioning through puberty with a face full of pimples, she looked me in the middle of my eyes and said, with her distinct Trinidadian accent, "You're getting ugly." I wrote about it in the introduction of my book, Feminine Transitions.
Though that one statement affected me for a few years,  because of my fathers influence I grew out of that perception.
If I had not the significant voice at home to assure me of my beauty, there is no doubt that my journey of self-perception would have been much more challenging.
My fathers words, assuring me that I was beautiful just as I am (speaking completely against any enhancements, including make-up, chemical changes to my hair, and medical alterations) stuck with me, even throughout my adult life.
I clearly remember when I started getting attention from boys, and feeling nonchalant when they complimented me. Of course it felt good and I appreciate it, but in all truth their flatter didn't phase me. It never went to my head.  Why? I simply already knew it because I’ve been praised for as long as I can remember by the most important male figure in my life…my dad.
Can you imagine the walking confidence of a woman that was always told, by her dad as a little girl, that she is beautiful?

I was that little of them as I am sure we are many. Unfortunately, our stories are not told. Society tends to get too caught up with what we lack... fatherless daughters and sons...I pay respect to those doing their job.
(Oprah, I'm feeling this topic on Lifeclass coming. Let's make it happen.)
I truly believe that if we had more fathers telling their daughters (and son's lets not forget them) they are beautiful just as they are, we will build generations of radiating confidence. Maybe even better relationships as people wouldn't feel the need to cover up who they really are.
As Michael Baisden said, "Stop introducing your representative and introduce yourself." That's well said Michael.
The same goes for mom's and their daughters. If our children do not hear it from us, they will simply seek approval elsewhere.
Daddy's...tell your daughter she is beautiful. You will awaken her soul.
To my dad...thank you!

Did your daddy tell you that you were beautiful? Is there a difference in a womans' love for self who grew up with a father as compared to one who did not? To dig a little deeper, when a father often tells his little girl that she is beautiful, does she develop a more positive self-esteem than the little girl who was never told this by her father? Please share your experience?
Alyscia Cunningham
Speaker, Photographer, Author