I know she is, she’s absolutely gorgeous and I’m thankful that she succeeded in receiving the best of both worlds. As the half breed of an Indian mother and an Italian father she could have come out looking like cousin IT but, instead, she’s the perfect balance of east meets west. I just don’t think she needs to constantly be reminded of this.
We know that children are made equal which would mean that for every “OMG, you are so beautiful” my daughter receives, the little girl standing next to her would get the same shallow remark. I bear witness to this discrepancy regularly because in the real world, this just doesn’t happen. Yes, at 2 and a half years old my baby’s sidekick might not care what the lady towering over her thinks about her pretty little face but sooner than later these loaded messages will have an impact. They will teach our currently clueless daughters who are happy reading books, rolling around in the dirt and playing ball with the boys that physical appearance gets considerably more acknowledgement and appreciation than inner beauty and strength. Unfortunately, this lesson is already quite prominent in the outside world so we need to be doing our ultimate best to counter its impact at home. It’s mind blowing how quickly kids learn and pick up on nuances and it’s equally mind blowing how desensitized we’ve become to the issue. Am I the only one who thinks that five year olds shouldn’t be wearing string bikinis and playing with make-up even if it is from Toys r Us?
I remember when my daughter was only four months old, people seemed more preoccupied with when I was going to get her ears pierced than the lack of sleep I was experiencing. I was on the verge of a complete melt down and was forced to think about whether ornamenting my infant was a priority…I quickly concluded it was not (she can decide if she wants to wear earrings when the time is right). While there may never be ill-intent behind the words we use or remarks we make there are, most definitely, consequences to them.
Did you know:
- Between the ages of 9 and 13, girls’ confidence levels decline and they experience higher rates of depression stemming from “low self-esteem, negative body image, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and stress?
- According to the American Psychological Association (APA), their decline in mental health is attributable to the widespread sexualisation of girls and women in our society.
- Almost half a million girls have posted YouTube videos of themselves asking “Am I pretty, or am I ugly?”
- And get this….
There’s obviously no lack of evidence to support the notion that girls are being programmed to become obsessed with their physical appearance and this preoccupation is limiting in so many ways. It affects their focus and concentration and their ability to perform their best both from an academic and sports standpoint-negative body image makes girls less likely to be physically active preventing them from making good life choices and simply being happy. We need to build their confidence in ways that make them resilient to superficial criticism and expectations not more vulnerable to them.
Now I’m not a feminist or a parent that preaches about gender neutrality but after having a daughter it’s become vibrantly clear that there are going to be challenges down the road. There’s only so much I can control and as much as I’m trying to the lay the foundation for a strong mind, outside influence is inevitable. I’m already answering questions about why I don’t do her hair or put her in more dresses. There are times when I, myself, succumb to these gender stereotypes like choosing to purchase the Frozen sippy cup over the Spiderman version because she’s stated clearly “mummy, I’m a princess”!
Major brands like Dove, Kellogg’s and Playtex can run ads about women empowerment and self-confidence but as long as we continue to talk to our little girls the way we do, nothing will change and it’s only a matter of time before this:
turns in to this: