Does Your Daughter Feel Pretty? Do You?
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
Sesame Street has produced a new song for kids designed to teach black girls to "love their hair." Called, "I Really Love My Hair," it's totally adorable. When it was posted online, that prompted a whole lot of people to view it and react. Lots of discussion about race and hair and how some black women torture themselves and spend a fortune so that they can love their hair.
While I understand all of that, I don't think it's solely a race issue. How many women do you know who love their hair in its natural state? Or, for that matter, how many of us love all the parts of ourselves in their natural states?
Of course we want to raise girls who love themselves and feel great about their appearance. How many of us succeed? I feel pretty good about myself and overall, I like to believe that I set a good example for my daughters, but, alas, not perfect. I have announced many times that I dislike my wrinkled neck and if I had life to live over, I'd wear sunscreen at a much earlier age. (Yes, I'm aware that in the scope of life's regrets, if that's my only one, I've done pretty well. Sadly, it's not my only regret. It's just the only one that is relevant to this post.) And, Shira once remarked that she's surprised that I color my hair because she thought I'd be a woman who'd want to age gracefully. Gracefully! Moi? No, I'm going kicking and screaming ... oh and dyeing my hair.
Having said all that, I do work at loving myself the way I am. When I run a few miles, I am grateful for the body that got me through it, despite that body carrying more pounds than I'd like. (Especially lately.) But, can't I love myself and want to change some things about me? Is there a way to teach daughters that loving yourself is not mutually exclusive to working to better the parts you don't love?
How can moms set examples that move our girls forward with security but still enable us to be honest with them about our flaws? Carroll girls, how do you feel about you? How did you get that way?
I'm not going to pretend that I always liked the way I looked. I had a lot of body issues growing up, and it messed with me emotionally. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that those same issues don't creep up now and then. As a result, I know I am not often in tune with how I look, whether it's positive or negative. I'd also be lying if I didn't admit that there are many beauty luxuries that I enjoy that also make me feel good about myself.
I get my hair cut and highlighted every eight weeks, and in recent years I started getting manicures. My sisters don't enjoy these luxuries nearly as much as I do, and I think they think it's a little ridiculous to spend the money I do on my appearance. But I love the way my hair looks and having my nails done makes me feel clean. I think of it this way -- I work really hard to have the body that I do. I exercise, eat right, and take needed medication that sometimes makes me sick. I like the way that my body looks now, and I feel like I deserve to have those other things that "highlight" my appearance. Maybe that's shallow, and as my mother would say "Just when I think you're shallow, you let a little more water out of the pool." But I think that when I was younger I didn't want to do things to call attention to myself because I didn't feel comfortable enough to be looked at. Now, I don't care what people think of me, because I like the way I look whether it comes out of a bottle or not.
Beauty is about choice and confidence. Help your daughters see themselves the way you do. My mother was always my beauty advocate growing up. She taught me to have confidence in myself and how to take control of it in a healthy way when I got frustrated. My mother taught me about health and food, she taught me how sometimes our insecurities with our physical selves are often more about dealing with our emotional selves -- and in the traditional of do as I say not as I did -- I have always used sunscreen (never tanning oil).
I've never really liked my hair. It's very thin and when it's natural, it's a pretty dull mousy-ish brown. I use shampoo that claims to add volume and I DIY hair dye every couple of months. If I keep changing it up, I feel like people might not notice how boring it really is.
When I was younger, I was painfully shy, and it probably had a lot to do with how I felt about what I looked like. My mother always made a point to tell me that there was nothing not to like about me. It took a long time for me to believe her, but I think I've grown into a relatively confident adult. Yes, I rarely leave the house without make-up and tend to put a lot of thought into the outfits I wear every day, because it makes me feel good. Although I sometimes need to be reminded that my difficulty finding a job is not a reflection on me personally, I think for the most part I feel pretty good about myself. I try to do things to make me feel good, and not worry so much about what the people around me think. Honestly, I think I'm pretty darn cute.
I like the way I look. Of course, there are times when I think I don't look good in anything I own, or when I get one of Shira's zit's cousin's, that's always annoying, but for the most part, I feel pretty good about what I look like. I like to buy jeans that I think look nice, and pretty shoes and jewelry. I didn't always like the way I looked. When I was younger, I hated being little. I mean I wasn't just little like a child, but really small. I hated it. I felt tiny and it made me uncomfortable. Eventually, my smallness was something Mom and I could bond on, and it also got me out of putting away the dishes since they were too high.
I think it is important for girls (or anyone) to be able to see the positives in the way they look (or the positives in anything). Sure, your hair may not look that great, but then you get to go spend an afternoon at the beauty salon. You're not always going to like everything about yourself, and that's okay. Just like mom says, there is nothing wrong with wanting to change things about yourself as long as it is in a healthy way. Also, I don't see a problem with wanting to improve yourself, again, as long as it is in a healthy way. I also use sunscreen and think I'm pretty darn cute as well - if I don't think it, who will??
Mom writes: I leave it to the readers to decide. Do these girls have anything to feel inferior about? Seriously, though, the goal is to empower all of our daughters to feel beautiful. I think talking about how we look and feel openly is a good first step. Begin the dialogue and don't let up until your girls see that how they feel inside reflects outside. And, it's okay to pamper yourself once in a while. (or all the time!) Doing things to make yourself feel better doesn't mean you feel badly about yourself. It may just mean you feel good enough about yourself to take good care of you.
Hey it's not just about daughters or women. Guys like to look good, as well. They can get away with a lot less than women and now even the unshaved look is cool. But I think guys have trouble dealing with their looks too, albeit not as much difficulty as girls, perhaps. When I was young, I was skinny as a rail, had jagged teeth which are not much better today, and my face got too small for my nose. Not a very pretty picture. But I learned to accept how I look as I moved into my late teens, since there was not much I could do about it. A smile, a good sense of humor, and a pleasant disposition can go a long way to improving your looks. Now that I'm sixty that skinny body is looking pretty good, and combined with a full head of distinguished gray hair, I'm finally out of that awkward stage.
This blogger is also featured on EndlessBeauty.com, a website focused on a fresh look at beauty, from skin to hair to makeup, plus celeb style, fashion, and fitness.
Please check out my blog at http://raisingamazingdaughters.wordpress.com