07/09/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mother-Daughter Lessons in Beauty

In the hierarchy of mom's life-shaping duties, playing a beauty role model often falls to the bottom. The needs of others just seem to take precedence. While mom's appearance has little to do with getting dinner on the table, solving homework problems or learning to tie a shoelace (and let's face it, what mother has time to look her best at every moment?), the way she cares for herself is a lasting reference point for beauty and body image that her daughters carry with them through womanhood.

This begs the question, what are we teaching our daughters about beauty?

To understand your own notion of beauty, you'll more than likely have to look back at your own mother. Did she teach you how to apply eye cream, remind you to wear a slip with that dress and scold you for fiddling with a blemish? Mine did. Did she show you how to dress and how to braid your own hair? Yes, that too. But through her own subtle actions, every mother does even more. She sets the tone for the way her daughter will feel about her unique shape, influences how she will treat herself and the satisfaction she'll have when she looks in the mirror. These are some of the most important lessons a mother can share. They play a weighty role in the woman your daughter will become.

What beauty lessons should every mother remember?

Nontoxic Beauty: With the burden of knowledge about harmful ingredients we shoulder today, beauty is no longer as simple and sentimental as passing down a favorite shade of lipstick from mother to daughter. Girls play with makeup from a very young age and they'll inevitably do just what mom does. Mothers, find the safest, healthiest personal care products for you, as well as your daughter. Pass along the knowledge that the products we put on our skin end up in our bodies; make them the very best.

Nutrition: Not every family has time for home-cooked meals each night. But the understanding that we only have one body, a body that deserves optimum nutrition from natural, whole foods to function at its best, sets lifelong healthy eating patterns. Convey this lesson through the foods you choose for yourself and your family and treat your body as your temple. Make time to cook and eat together and help your daughter to solidify a positive relationship with food.

Body Image: The way that we care for our bodies and present ourselves to the world directly contributes to self image. Teach your daughter that taking care of herself with good hygiene and regular exercise is a joy, as is her body's natural growth and aging. Surround her with women of all ages so she sees that wrinkles, too, are beautiful. Allow her to express herself through her appearance, but show her she doesn't need to fit a mold to be beautiful.

Self Care: Make time for yourself, put yourself first, and explain to your daughter why prioritizing self care is essential. It's a valuable lesson for you both to learn: to feel your best, to radiate inner and outer beauty, you need time to appreciate yourself. There is nothing selfish about loving the body you're in.

Thank you, mom, for everything you do and for everything you've taught us. To us, you are beauty. Now take care of your body, treat yourself well and embrace your natural beauty- on Mother's Day and every day. Your daughter will thank you.