I have a beautiful little girl. Yes, I'm her mother and incredibly biased. But sometimes I just stare into her star-shaped, dark blue eyes (that she did NOT get from me), and am in awe at how perfect she seems. I never want to bite my tongue when I say, "Hey beautiful!" but later when I stop and think about it, I realize that's not the only message I want her to hear.
Sure I give her props when she works hard, and is kind, but every night when I kiss her before she falls asleep, I say, "Good night, beautiful girl." And every morning when she watches me get ready, she sees me putting on make-up, which again emphasizes physical appearance -- on a daily basis.
This make-up and beauty issue has been a challenge for a feminist, who also doesn't want to go to pre-school drop-off without at least a little bit of foundation and lip stick.
But I got a tip on how to deal, when author, Lisa Bloom explored how to talk to little girls in her HuffPo article. It made me stop and think, and realize I could still be an example with eyeliner. Bloom likes to start a convo out with a gal by asking what she's reading. My kids read books like they're chowing on candy, so this is an easy conversation to have.
Additionally, my girl just likes to talk. I can grab our globe and give it a spin and she'll ask me about the land mass her finger has landed on. She likes to hear stories about the "olden days" when I was little, and lived on a farm. She's very interested in my family, and her father's, and we can talk about family heritage all day long. None of these things have to do with physical appearance, self-consciousness, or this frightening trend of three-year-olds thinking they're fat.
I may not be able to explain -- perfectly -- why mommy puts something on her face every day to make her feel good, but I can explain the history of Native Americans in this country, and in her family. I can talk about my favorite part of going to college -- twice. I can offer her something other than my joy over her being unbelievably adorable. And then I can sit back and hope she won't think all of her self-worth comes from what she sees in the mirror. Wish me luck. Or rather, wish all of us luck that are trying to raise confident, deep, caring, kids -- without being total hypocrites.
How do you explain "beauty" to your kids?