Thursday, January 16, 2014

Beauty Standards

My daughter and I were talking last night.  I was brushing her hair, and she said, "I just don't know why everyone adores me."

First of all, because you say stuff like that.  It is damn adorable.  I said, "Because you're so adorable."  Cutest exchange ever?  Maybe.

Then she turned to me and asked, "Did you look like me when you were little?"

I told her that I did.  In fact, some pictures of her look exactly like mine from the same age.  She turned around quickly and narrowed her eyes.  "Will I look like you when I grow up?"

I told her she might, but she will look like herself.  Then she sighed.  "I just want to be straight."

(Side note: She does not refer to straight in a sexuality sense.  Straight refers to thin bodies.)

I told her that she might grow up to have a straight body, and she might grow up to have a more round body, and either of those are ok because we will love her no matter what.

"But, I just want to be beautiful."

Here's the problem.  I want her to value all aspects of herself, not just her beauty.  I also don't want her to only see beauty in one narrow shape.  And mostly, I don't want her to start having body image issues at the tender age of six.  It is a long road in this life to self-acceptance, and to start worrying about it before you can read scares the crap out of me.

Also, we don't shame or elevate body types in my house.  I never talk negatively about my body in front of the girls, and I don't do diet talk around them.  My husband is affectionate to me and the kids rarely watch television with advertisements.  But they do watch Disney movies, so I know they aren't immune to societal images of perfection.  

So.  I asked her, "Do you think Mommy's not beautiful?"

"You are beautiful Mommy.  I just want a straight body."

Ok.  Fair enough.  I can understand that she has an idea in her head of the person she wants to be.  I get that.  I told her that she needs to eat healthily and exercise for a healthy body.  We also talk about the girls' other great traits more than their physical appearance.  We compliment their intelligence, humor, kindness, and generosity often.  I hope that gets in.

But this conversation is going to be ongoing.  I see a future of changing bodies, clothes that fit oddly, "bad" foods, and judgment.  I hope I can talk to her in a way that makes her know that bodies are different and that's just fine.  Mostly, I want her to understand her worth is about so much more than her body shape.

1 comment:

  1. So glad that you are teaching Judy about true beauty! It is a constant battle to raise girls with healthy self images when society puts all sorts of ideas in their heads. Good work mama!


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Farmington, NM, United States
Old enough to know better, young enough to change.