There has been a lot of buzz on the interwebs this week surrounding this Huff Post article about the way we interact with young girls, which makes an extremely valuable point:
"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."
Our blog tends to focus a decent amount on little girls looking pretty: after all, we sell vintage baby clothes! Jayme and I also love fashion and makeup and hair and shopping and all of those very superficial (maybe), girly things. Growing up, I always felt I was the smart one and Jayme was the pretty one. I doubt the grown-ups in my life meant to make me feel this way, but I've struggled with my self esteem and issues with my appearance since as far back as the fourth grade. I loved to read and write, I got great grades, and I was always winning some contest or another. But Jayme did too! She's smart and artistic and creative.
I never resented her (though I was always jealous of how tiny she was--and still am at times). But I hated the feeling of being one thing (smart) or the other thing (good-looking). They're not mutually exclusive!
I have always felt confident in my intelligence, but rarely felt confident in my looks. Even though I know I'm attractive. Even though I know that what's sexy about someone comes from within. And that sexiness is really about loving who you are, inside and out.
All of this to say: there are two sides of the story. I value Aurora for all that she is because she is my daughter. I know that's clear in the way both Q and I interact with her. I want her to grow up feeling beautiful in every way. To have a healthy image of herself as a whole. I'm not going to withhold compliments on her physical appearance any more than I would withhold compliments about her accomplishments. Head to toe, Aurora is the best, smartest, funniest, most beautiful and special girl I know.
In the end, I think this author's got it a little wrong. Interacting with kids shouldn't be a show or a concerted effort to be politically correct. Conversation should come from the genuine love and concern and joy that you experience just by being around them. Maybe you'll ask them about the picture they're coloring or maybe you'll ask them about the mismatched, multicolored ensemble they put on to go to school that morning. Chances are, they'll have something to tell you (even Aurora has a LOT to say these days!). The key is to engage authentically: be yourself so that they can be themselves. After all, isn't modeling (not the runway kind) one of the most powerful ways of teaching our kids how to behave and respond to others? If we respond and engage with love, we're doing good.
This is Aurora dressed up for a little Miskabelly photo shoot over the weekend. Right now? She's wearing only a diaper with peanut butter on her face and bedhead, dancing around to Yo Gabba Gabba, and she has never been more beautiful.
What do you think about this Lisa Bloom article? We'd love to hear from you, especially other mama bloggers.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend--and thanks for reading,