As the mother of two young girls, I am always finding ways of teaching them to love themselves for who they are and love others for who they are. Teach them to focus on kindness and manners and not focus on what they look like. And while, they are still only four and almost seven, I’m not delusional enough to think that they don’t already have ideas on what “pretty” is.
We create it ourselves, and I don’t even think we realize it until it’s too late.
“Wow! You look so nice today.”
“Your hair looks pretty like that.”
“I love your skirt.”
My husband and I make a big deal when they are dressed up, or wear something they don’t normally wear, and it’s not meant to send a message that they only look good in these instances; it’s just a couple of parents making their kids feel good. We also try not to only praise them on their looks, but on their efforts, kindness, behaviour and good choices.
But it’s the emphasis on looks that has me worried. And makes me wonder how many other times they are exposed to images that have an impact on their thoughts around beauty. I’ve written about how we’ve seemed to make the transition from Treehouse to The Family Channel in our house, and I would be crazy to think that the female characters on these shows haven’t made an impression on my kids.
They know which girls are the “popular” ones – the lead characters – and which ones are meant for comic relief.
The Little Mouse has made a comment a couple times regarding Raini Rodriguez’s character on Austin & Ally to the fact that she “has a big tummy.” I try not to read too much into this, as the Little Mouse is four and thinks she is stating a fact about this character, but I still jump all over it and try to teach her that it doesn’t matter what the character looks like because she is always helpful to her friends, is funny, kind and smart.
The Little Bird agrees and loves the character, but I wonder if she too thinks Rodriguez’s isn’t as important as the main female character, whose name graces the title of the show.
I always have my ear to the ground when this show is on, or any show on The Family Channel for that matter. All the main female characters of these shows look alike, act in the same manner and are, well, pretty. I limit the amount of time they watch these shows, and actually prefer that they watch a cartoon on Disney Jr. or even Teletoon. The sexualization of the female character is emphasized far less in Teen Titans and Gravity Falls than Jessie, KC Undercover or even Liv & Maddie.
I’m not going to stop letting them watch it, but I will discuss it with them, especially when I see behaviour that I don’t like. My kids have a pretty high moral compass and are usually pointing out to us something they think isn’t quite right,
“They are being mean, mommy.”
“You should help your friends, right daddy?”
“You have to be kind to your family.”
I guess this is par for the course with girls, and I’m ready.
Pray for me, just in case.
I will also arm myself with positive influences, images, words and music.
One of those songs I think I’m going to start playing a little more is TLC’s Unpretty. The message of looking inside of who you are, finding out who you are and loving yourself is just what I need on repeat.
I also need to continue to emphasis the importance of inner beauty, kindness, empathy, truth, and sincerity. I will try to throw more positive images than negative. I will empower them to make the right choices, stick up for their friends and each other and know the difference between reality and fantasy. And I will pray that it all sticks so they can look into the mirror, into their own eyes, and believe that they will always be beautiful.
How about you? Do you have a positive, self-assuring anthem you like? I’d love to know what it is. The more I can have in my back pocket, the better.
Happy Monday everyone! Enjoy your day.