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The other day I was in the bathroom putting on my make-up, getting ready to go out. Tira was in there with me and asked if she could put on her “make-up” (which is a puff attached to a stick that has glitter dust on it). I told her no, she only gets to wear make-up for special occasions.
Her response was “But I look ugly without make-up.”
::Insert car-screeching to a stop sounds here:: Wait, what?!
I tried to keep the horror off my face and just told her that she wasn’t ugly and that she still couldn’t put on any make-up. Inside my heart broke and I felt panicked. I’ve somehow broken my child just a little.
I’d pretty much forgotten about this incident until my good friend and the mother to shnuggly, Heidi, wrote a blog post called Focusing on the inward. She links to an article by Lisa Bloom called “How to Talk to Little Girls”. What an eye opener it was. If you have daughters, granddaughters, nieces, friends with little girls, if you ever see little girls in the store, park, or library you MUST read this article and take it to heart!
We had been telling the girls that make-up is only for ugly and old people, jokingly giving them an excuse as to why we can put on make-up and they can’t. In hindsight that was a stupid idea. Someone please tell me what the right response is. I don’t think I put an emphasis on looks or weight but I do wear make-up, I do tell them they look cute and beautiful, I tell them they can’t go out looking like homeless beggar children, and I do tell them that if they want to be cute they need to sit still and let me do their hair. It all seems harmless and normal, but really what am I teaching them?
I’ve always known that I will NEVER EVER comment on their weight because of my own experiences. We make a point to tell the girls that they have to eat certain things and they can’t eat other things because it makes them healthy, not because it will affect their weight. But is that not enough? Do I have to worry about any time I point out their outward appearance? Do I have to completely stop telling them they are pretty and beautiful? I don’t think so. But because that is my natural tendency I will make an effort to focus inward and hopefully by being conscientious about it I will tip the scales to help them realize that yes they are beautiful, but more importantly they are smart, hard working, caring, protective, sweet, polite, strong little girls.