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A Lesson In True Beauty

good girls don't get fat, book

“My mother is the kind of woman that people can’t just walk by…She’s beautiful. People stop on the street or crane their heads in restaurants to stare. She has really dark, long hair and big brown eyes,” 19-year-old Angie told author and body image expert Robyn Silverman, Ph.D.

(Silverman features Angie’s story in her book Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls And How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.*)

But she didn’t feel beautiful, and the stares and compliments didn’t matter.

“She would call herself ugly, and she’d pick at her stomach and say, ‘Italian girls aren’t supposed to be fat.” Once she said, ‘No wonder why my tummy got so big, look at you!’ and I, being a pissed-off teenager, would be like ‘Oh, so you wish I wasn’t born?”

The self-hatred only escalated. Once, Angie said, her mom threw her scale out the window.

Then, suddenly things improved exponentially.

“Do you know why?” Silverman asked Angie.

“Yes. She got cancer…”

Angie explained that her mom had undergone aggressive treatments that took her hair and zapped her energy.

But she didn’t let this stop her. One day, after Angie joked with her mom to help make her feel better, she realized something:

“She was completely bald, covered in flour [from baking for the first time in a long time] and completely exhausted, but she looked more beautiful to me than she ever did.”

Afterward, the two of them went out for a walk. Angie’s mom said to her, “I spent so much time worried about what I looked like that I didn’t realize how amazing I was. I feel beautiful. Right now. Taking a walk with my favorite person, my beautiful daughter.”

Angie said that she was surprised at just how much she needed to hear from her mom that she was beautiful.

Today, Angie’s mom is in remission. They take tons of walks, talk about tons of things but “we never criticize. That’s just who we are now. And it’s the best I’ve ever felt.”

I wanted to share this excerpt with you because it blew me away.

It made me think about many things. The truly important things in life.

Treasuring your life with loved ones. Telling them how much they mean to you. How beautiful they truly are.

Realizing that when I look back at old photos of myself and consider what I’ve accomplished, regardless of the self-doubts, body-bashing and sad self-care, I was pretty amazing, too.

I was amazing at the very moments that I thought I was hideous, big and unloveable.

I just didn’t get it.

Whenever I feel unattractive, greasy hair, unwashed skin, wearing my oldest sweats, that’s when my boyfriend looks at me, and says that I look absolutely beautiful.

While I’m quick to look at him as though he’s speaking a foreign language, I think I get it now. I think it’s because he’s seeing the real me, vulnerable, probably with my eyes drawn into a book, just hanging out.

And I realize that this is true beauty.

I think of my grandma, years ago, after her brutal cancer treatments, a brave, fiercely stubborn and determined, vibrant woman with a Betty-White laugh.

And I realize that this is true beauty.

Walks and talks with loved ones is true beauty.

Being humble and admitting you were wrong is true beauty.

Opening your heart to others is true beauty.

So is finally feeling your best just as you are.

* I received a free copy. I’m loving the book, and I think it’s a must-read for parents raising girls. It’s not only packed with valuable practical advice. But I think parents will be very surprised and disturbed to hear girls’ views on weight and the lengths that some will go to lose weight. It’s eye-opening, and it’s info parents need to know.

A Lesson In True Beauty

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). A Lesson In True Beauty. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Mar 2014
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