You hear a lot of people say they will never be as pretty as they were in highschool… well… I hope I never am, as that was a Lisa that had barely lived life… now I am as beautiful as the combination of life experiences I have amassed… so if you look at it that way I am pretty darn gorgeous … we all are!!!! Personal identity and feelings of self worth seem to be so tightly entwined with our outward appearance in North America that we seem to almost value beauty in a conventional sense over all else. This is especially apparent in women over men.
I came across a wonderful article via Facebook regarding how we should introduce ourselves and interact with little girls in order to limit, reduce and maybe even eradicate this often detrimental and painful standard of perfection we seem to almost unconsciously subject our little girls to and allow ourselves to perpetuate.
Thank you Latina Fatale for your inspirational article: How to Talk to Little Girls found HERE. I suggest you continue on to her site to read the entire article. Let’s examine the consequences of our first instinct greeting – how adorable you are/pretty/cute/insert giggly squeal some sort of compliment on clothing/hair/looks (I admit I am guilty as well)…
This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s next top model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.
Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.
So young to worry about such trivial things, so much heartbreak over a standard of beauty which is relatively new to our collective history. It is not so long ago that a woman like Marilyn Monroe was the standard of beauty. Before that the red haired voluptuous beauties of the painter Titian. We have created a monster in our idolizing of the current ideal (insanely thin and perfect) and then let this belief lose on our daughters…
What is there to do? Well…
Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.
Simple isn’t it? Not a complete solution but a step towards change… A refocus on what is important… on giving girls the opportunity to be themselves, to wear their lives on themselves with pride and joy. It also charges you to have this same conversation with yourself. Decrease the mirror’s image and its importance in our lives. Take back some joy in the parts of us that make us unique… embrace the changes as proof that we have truly LIVED.
(I especially love Diverse Philosophies noting the minor roundness of her stomach as not a sign of pregnancy or a detraction of her beauty but part of her being a NATURAL woman… Thank you as that is my place of insecurity!!)