Today’s question is simple.
What are we teaching our daughters?
About beauty? Brains? Their place/role? Their value?
We live in a world that glorifies looks over brains. Being the right size can seem so much more important than your dreams, goals or aspirations.
Actually, this is another of my problems with schools. Because even if you do everything right as a parent (and NONE of us do), when your kid goes to school, you lose them. Peer pressure is immense, especially on these things.
I screwed the pooch with Mere-Mere on this one. I admit it, darlin’ girl. When she was little, Precious (her nickname) was stunning. And I made the mistake of reinforcing that. I told her every day how pretty she was.
Then we moved to a small town in Texas…and both of us took a hit emotionally. We also both began to gain weight. Now, to be clear…my daughter was and still is beautiful. BUT we know that is not how the rest of this world sees it.
Things came to a head when we moved back to Houston and Mere-Mere went to school for the first time (we had homeschooled them before). There were this group of girls, who bullied her mercilessly about her weight. She could never get away from them. Some of them lived in the same apartment complex. They were in her Girl Scout troop. But school was the worst…because her strong Mommy could not be there to protect her.
But damn did I try. I was in that principal’s office every week demanding that the bullying had to stop. True story…the woman comes up to my ten year-old daughter in the hall and says, “Can you please tell your mother that I am retiring at the end of the year?” Mind you, she told this to my child before it was officially announced to the teachers, the PTA or students. That is what a terror I can be.
Unfortunately, none of it worked. Kids are cruel…without proper guidance they are the absolute worst of humanity.
To make matters worse, I screwed up even more by putting my child on a diet. I am sorry, beautiful. I know it makes no difference, but I honestly was trying to make your life easier. But that is just it…giving into bullies/society never makes it better. Because if it is not weight, it will be something else. And me reinforcing the perception that she was fat, that something was wrong with her, only made things worse. I am sorry, Princess.
Thing is KARMA bites. Almost all of those girls that bullied her were pregnant in their teens. While my beautifully strong woman has worked and gone to college, has developed her kind heart and brilliant mind.
The damage was done though…she struggles with body image, self-worth and feeling unloveable….things that I know nothing about. Hmmm…something about apples not falling far from the tree maybe?
As a mother, I do learn and grow. I am not repeating those mistakes with PanKwake (making brand new ones, thank you very much). With her I say things like…what a good problem solver she is, how creative she is. But she does get loads of ‘good girls’…sorry I just love those words too fuckin’ much.
The moral of this story is…we cannot control the messages that our children receive from television, school or society. BUT we can and MUST balance those out with a focus upon what truly counts.
One of my core values is that your home should be your fortress and refuge, the one place where you are free to just be yourself, accepted and loved as you are. We need to make certain that ALL of our children, but especially our little girls, have that balance. That they know their true beauty is not merely size, hair, make-up or skin deep. That beauty truly does begin in the heart. And the MIND!