May 20, 2009 12:03 am
At the tender ages of one and two, both of my kids already bear scars on the outside. Elliot has one on her forehead from being smacked in the head by a playmate. Graham’s is over his eye from falling into the baseboards when he was first walking. Their legs are always bruised and they’re forever banging their clumsy little heads. These tiny scrapes and bumps aren’t going to matter in a few years so we take them in stride. The physical scars will heal, emotional scars are way more damaging.
Today I have the pleasure of joining Wicked Step Mom’s project, Beautiful Like Me. As I was writing this post, I realized that I had already written a fitting post on this subject, self esteem. I’m reposting the original which was posted on September 28th, 2008.
I am totally head over heels in love with my daughter Elliot. Really, I am. As I write this, she is laying next to me on the bed, watching me intently and smiling from ear to ear. After every few words I type, I stop and smile at her and she bursts into the most adorable laugh I have ever heard. It’s hard for me to concentrate, almost enough to make me overlook the fact that she’s supposed to be napping but fought like hell to be able to stay up and play.
Having a daughter worried me in many ways. There’s the obvious me being a tomboy and not knowing what to do if she turns into a princess. There’s the stuff about “girl problems” and having to protect her from all of the boys out there that are going to try to get in her pants. Mostly, there’s the fact that as a girl, she’s going to grow up in a world where looks, popularity and being thin will turn my precious girl into a self conscious mess if we don’t work extra hard on building her self-esteem.
Growing up, I spent most of my time around boys. At home, there weren’t any other girls in the neighborhood so I played alongside the boys. I raced BMX and there were only a handful of other girls in the state that raced so I was usually the only girl. Boys didn’t care if I wore makeup, or what I dressed like. They cared about if I could beat them out of the starting gate and how I rode the doubles going into the second turn. Boy stuff. Because of this, I never noticed my weight or thought to eat a salad instead of a burger. I was accepted by my peers and never gave it a second thought.
I recently read that 20-40% of girls begin dieting by the age of ten. TEN. A ten year old shouldn’t know what a diet is. Kids these days are being pushed into adult situations long before we were at their age. It scares the shit out of me. It’s not just dieting, it’s also sexualization, peer pressure and drugs. Little girls are dressing like sluts (I’ve heard them called prostitots), preteens are developing eating disorders and becoming sexually active. What the fuck is going on with the world?
Elliot is only five months old and I’ve already caught myself slipping up. When we play, I call her “Pretty Pretty” and tell her she’s the most beautiful girl in the world (she is, by the way). It comes naturally to tell her these things, but I know I should be telling her she’s smart and capable instead. When she’s old enough to understand me, I will. We plan on buying her gender neutral toys and not toys geared solely towards little girls. She WILL NOT own a Bratz Doll. We will encourage her creativity and her brains and help her to feel good about herself. We need to teach her that it’s ok to wear clothes that cover her body and it’s ok to eat a decent meal.
When I look at Elliot, I worry about how I will be able to make her strong enough to be happy. I want her to know that it’s her brain and her heart that make her special, not which shade of Revlon she puts on her lips or what size clothes she wears. How am I going to do that when the odds are against us? I wish I had the know how to help turn my little girl into a balanced person with a healthy self-image. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.