I was asked a question that I have since, pondered a lot: “If you could give your daughter one beauty tip, what would it be?”

Well, before I could answer this, I had first to decide, what IS beauty? The answer ranges so diversely for all of us. With social media so prevalent, we have the ability to control how we want to portray ourselves. What you think is beautiful, I might not. But I think even in our differences, we can come to a common ground: beauty is the heart. What’s your day-to-day look like? Do you love others well? Do you treat those around you with love and respect? What is your heart thinking? If there was a way we could see it outside your chest, what are the types of things it would be filled with? Jealousy, anger, resentment, conceit, lust, selfishness, pride… I think we all agree that those are not beautiful characteristics.

So then, what do I want to teach my children about beauty? I have two toddlers, and I want to teach them both similar things. But I have to say, there is definitely more of an emphasis on how my daughter will learn this concept and that she will learn much of it from me. This makes sense, not because my husband is absent or hands-off (he is such the opposite of that!) but because every single day she watches me intently. At almost three, she watches me put on makeup and mimics everything I do. She uses the powder brush across her cheeks; she pretends to put on mascara and to straighten or curl her hair. She is observing every single thing I do to get ready. As she grows older, my intent is to teach her that beauty is not the products she puts on. These things are okay. Clearly, I enjoy wearing makeup, but they do not define her. I want her to find beauty in her strength, her laughter, her joy, her adventurous soul. Because if at the end of the day, she grows up and only thinks she is beautiful by the world’s definition, I have failed.

I want my daughter to know that over the years she will endure many changes. Whether she has children of her own or not, her body will go through many transformations. She never knew the Ashley before babies. She doesn’t yet notice my stretch marks, nor does she know that they are a part of me that didn’t used to be. Will she fear marks of her own? Or will she see that her mom can love herself in spite of them, so she then can too? At this age, she doesn’t see fault. She doesn’t know about numbers on a scale, and she isn’t insecure about how clothes fit. As she grows, I want to help her embrace the fact that though her opinion of those things may change, her heart holds the most beauty.

As a toddler, her heart is so sweet. She is sensitive and right now, has many fears that she is working bravely to overcome (like her paranoia of bugs!) She has a servant’s heart, replying with, “Sure!” and “Okay!” when asked to do a chore. She has the desire to make people happy, to love her brother and us well. She adores to be held and to cuddle. Last night as we rocked, she stroked the sides of my cheek so softly as I sang her nightly lullaby. What will her heart be when she is five? What will she be as a teenager? Outward beauty is subjective; the texture of our skin, it changes. Some of us get stretch marks; others don’t. The composure of our hair, that changes too. Our body types–all so different, so unique. But our inward beauty, I pray that still shines. I hope that even when she questions the body she is given, that she will thank her Creator for giving her such a beautiful and strong heart and soul.

It is no small task, raising a daughter. She will forever look to me, with her inquisitive hazel eyes. When she does, I pray she sees a woman who encouraged her to pursue her passion, who helped her use her voice in times of weakness and who loved the heck out of her every step of the way. My one beauty tip that I give to my daughter then, is to start with simply seeking a beautiful heart.