Today my 6-year-old daughter asked me if she looked fat in what she was wearing. I was dumbfounded that she would even be worried about something like that at her age. After a brief moment of shock I of course told her she looked great in what she had on, and to also remember that every body is different, and every body is beautiful.
To be honest, it made me a little sad to think that she is already concerned with her weight. Her unwavering stubbornness in wanting to dress herself since she was 2 1/2 years old, and absolutely detesting having her hair brushed and styled, was the extent of it so far as I knew concerning her looks. The fact that her weight is something she was thinking about made my Momma heart ache just a little bit. Remembering my own experience, I was at least 11 before it even registered to me about what size I was.
The more I thought about it last night, the more anxiety I felt for my daughter and the struggles she will have to go through. My experience as a teenager was rough, as it was for most kids my age. It seems today though, that middle school aged kids just completely skip over the awkward phase. Boy, if I could have a time machine I would LOVE to go back and just skip right on over my horrifically awkward middle school years. They were not fun. I was bullied, and I hated myself most days. But you know what? I got through it, and it made me a stronger individual and taught me so much about people in general. I feel like I am a much more empathetic person because of the bullying and teasing I went through.
During my senior year of high school, a friend of mine who I had known since 6th grade asked me if I had moved there in high school. I laughed, and just said “Yup!” and prayed he would not look back at our middle school yearbook. Thankfully I could just laugh it off by then, as I had come into my own by freshman year and had a lot more style and confidence.
I mean look at me, I was just awkward. Thankfully I had my braces off in fifth grade so I dodged a bullet there, but why on earth did I pick the BIGGEST glasses in the store? I literally have no logical answer for that. I had no sense of style. Part of this awkward phase was because my Mom was terminally ill all through my middle school years, so I didn’t have her there to teach me things like how to do my makeup or my hair. I’m definitely not blaming her at all, but it’s a huge part of why I was so lost when it came to anything to do with beauty.
It doesn’t seem right that girls are suddenly grown up at the ripe ages of 8, 9, and 10. Why are parents today so obsessed with making our daughters into these little adults so young? Media in general is to blame big time. This social media obsessed generation has access at their fingertips to countless portals of information, photos, gossip, fashion, and news. It has changed our once innocent kids into little adults at a younger age. My kids have accidentally seen or heard things from their friends or via commercials and ads no matter how hard I try to protect them from it, that I had NO clue about until I was well into middle school.
Girls from a young age are being pressured to be sexy and be so much more grown up than they really are. Young girls and women are bombarded with the message that they need to be sexualized to get anywhere in life. It has become a common theme when it comes to anything in entertainment these days. There are horrendous celebrities that are so commonplace now, and so influential to young girls. It just makes me sick. I will never let my daughter think that Kylie Jenner for example, is what she needs to be or look like. I want to teach her that being intelligent, educated, modest, kind, and healthy will make her beautiful inside AND out.
A while ago, a viral photo went around Facebook of a meme showing what my generation dressed like when we were little (think: side ponytails, stirrup leggings, and puff paint shirts) compared to what little girls dress like now (think: high fashion adult wear in mini sizes). It was meant to be funny, but the more I thought about it, the humor was lost for me. There is so much pressure nowadays for our little girls to be dressing like these little fashionistas, when in reality, they probably could care less.
My daughter for instance, would rather be in a tank top or t-shirt and leggings any day over something fancy. I can’t even get her to wear jeans! Getting her dressed up for special events or even church on Sunday turns into a HUGE debate. I tell you what, my daughter will rule the debate team one day! If she was given the choice between something considered “high fashion” or covered in glitter and fun characters that she loves, she would pick the glitter hands down. So why would I try to force her to be someone she doesn’t want to be? I won’t.
So for my daughter, I will try my very best to continue to teach her to not be afraid to be herself. The pressures she will face as she gets older are ten times what I had to go through. I am afraid for her, but if she is as stubborn and sure of herself as she is right now at the age of 6, I have a good feeling she will be able to navigate herself through the awkward stages just like I did.
I always make sure I am never negative about my own body. She has often asked me about my stretch marks and stretched out skin on my stomach from having my three kids. I have never said anything negative to her about them, (even if I do to myself), and make sure I tell her they are from having her and her brothers and I am so grateful for them because it means I have my kids.
My husband too, is a huge influence on what my daughter thinks of beauty. He doesn’t hesitate to tell me I am beautiful in front of them, even if I am super sweaty and have just come from the gym with no makeup on. We always kiss and hug one another in front of the kids. Kids hearing their parents say “I love you” to one another is so meaningful. Seeing a good solid relationship, and seeing how a man should treat a woman is very beneficial for their young minds. It sets a standard for them of what a good relationship looks like. I want my boys to know how to treat women with respect, and I want my daughter to know what kind of relationship she deserves to have in the future.
Even though I am not perfect, all I can do is continue to be a good example to her. I want to be the woman she strives to be when she grows up. For now, I will let her continue to be herself, and just be a kid.
The Raw Brunette