Sunday, March 8, 2015

{#sol15} deeper than beauty 8/31


The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join us for a month of writing!



I have twin four and a half -- almost five! -- year old daughters.  I try to be consciously aware of what I say and do in regards to my body image and self-esteem and also with their body image and self-esteem.

First of all, because I don't want them to believe everything that society says is true.  Even if they don't fully understand it today.  In addition, because they are fraternal twin sisters, I want them to understand they are individuals with unique and different bodies that God created for each of them.  

However, society -- including my loving family and friends -- tell a different story and harmlessly create a comparison war.   My girls constantly hear how beautiful, adorable, cute, fill-in-the-blank with any other adjective that describes how they look.  Yes, it's always about their looks.

I mean, I agree, I think they are beautiful, but I also want them to understand that beauty is on the inside too.  We talk about being kind to friends.  Being helpful at home.  Saying nice words.

I want them to know our words and actions make us beautiful.

So, when P. wrote the other day, "I love you because you are beautiful", I first thought how sweet.  But the more I thought about it, the more I worried that even at four and a half years old, she is believing what society says.  Is it engrained in her that feeling beautiful is important?  That feeling loved or valued is gained by appearance and beauty?

{#sol15} i love you because ... 6/31


Maybe I'm overreacting.  Maybe I'm thinking too deep into a sweet note.  However, I know that I can help change the beauty mindset and I can use my words and that framed message board to share positive messages that go beyond the surface level of looks and help both my daughters to know and understand the true meaning of being beautiful.

love you 
      because ...

You are strong.  You are brave.  You are a leader.  
You are kind.  You are healthy.  You are helpful.  
You are confident.  You are honest.  You worked hard today.  
You stuck with it.  You dream big.  You are courageous. 
You love to learn.  You love challenges.  
You are you!


35 comments:

  1. I've thought about this a lot because I have three daughters. And they are all beautiful, but very different. When my youngest was about four someone complimented her beautiful blonde hair and she looked up at them and said, "And my eyes?" She was the blue-eyed daughter and even then, she knew that was special and somehow more valued. I am happy to report that she is now 24 and a social worker with an amazing head on her shoulders. You will give this message to your daughters and your message far outweighs any message from society.
    I have come to accept the word beautiful to describe my daughters because I have realized that if there is no beauty on the inside, no beauty glows on the outside.

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    1. I love this - "I have realized that if there is no beauty on the inside, no beauty glows on the outside." Thanks for sharing your words and thoughts Margaret!

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  2. Our minds were in similar places this morning. Have you read the story about the #DancingMan in London? An overweight man was out dancing and some fool took pictures of him while laughing at him--then he posted the pictures and kept shaming the guy. The pictures are really sad. However, thousands have found this guy and reached out to him on social media...check out the story. A really beautiful turnaround of an ugly act connected to body image.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I did not hear about this story, but will now!

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  3. Beauty is both inside and out. Good for you for teaching your daughters to recognize and celebrate this! I love your list of all the reasons you love your daughters at the end of your post!

    Jennifer

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    1. Thanks for your words of encouragement!

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  4. You bring up a great point. I think that as long as we (moms) balance out all the other comments with the truths you speak about at the end, then they will be just fine. It is important to let them know that they will hear these things, but we know beauty is measured by...{insert all the lovely points you make at the end}. Great piece!

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    1. Yes, I have to agree -- it's about balancing those out those comments. Thanks for this reminder.

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  5. I hope and pray your "actions, thoughts, behaviors, and words posted on your family message board" will be a far stronger force in their lives than the words of other. I am reminded as i read your post of Johnston's Choice Words. Our words matter, but empty praise is empty. The real meaningful points of praise are retained in our hearts.

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    1. Yes, I was thinking of Johnston's work as well ... we use that little word YET a lot around here. I'm also trying to praise the efforts as well, but it's just so easy to go back to the "you're so smart" phrase. I appreciate your prayers Anita! Lots of parenting prayers!

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  6. Wow! Some important words this morning! So, so, so important for our girls to have a sense of themselves outside of their physical beauty. I love your affirmations, especially "You are kind!" How about "You made a good choice?" Have you read REVIVING OPHELIA? I read it when my niece was about four, and immediately gave it to my sister. You might want to look for it.

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    1. I have heard of the book (probably from your blog), but have not yet read it. I will add it to my growing TBR pile. Thanks for the book suggestion and kinds words!

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  7. All the messages you wish your daughters to hear matter, so does the message of being beautiful, as long as one message doesn't rule over the others. I admit when Mimm used to draw me as a princess, I felt very happy, because being exhausted often didn't make me feel pretty at all, and her words lifted my spirits.

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    1. Terje, thanks for that reminder. I was thinking I had to push the word beautiful out of my vocabulary, but I don't. I need to balance those affirmations. And -- agreed! I do love when the girls draw me with a princess crown too because I don't always feel that beautiful! Thank you for your words today!

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  8. A beautiful reminder that beauty need not be limited to the body, especially as women bodies are portrayed by media, advertisers, Hollywood. I'll keep your list handy.

    Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Mary Ann.

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  9. I so agree you can't be beautiful on the outside if your not beautiful on the inside first. I remember when Lyndsey was growing up we would tell her how cute then pretty then beautiful she was/is BECAUSE she was/is so caring to others. Your little beautiful girls will grow up strong and confident because of all you do everyday. My opinion, she said you are beautiful because you warm her heart and make her feel so good inside! Enjoy her words xoxox

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    1. Thanks Lynn! I never thought of it from that perspective -- "she said you are beautiful because you warm her heart -- but it works for me. Thank you.

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  10. This is definitely a societal thing. While I agree, my daughter is cute, I really wish people wouldn't focus on that all of the time. One of my physicians (who has two daughters of her own) always makes it a point to ask Isabelle what she's learning in school or what her favorite book is as a way to enter a conversation with her. That makes my heart so happy. However, most people aren't that intentional.

    BTW: Have you ever read Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter? If not, put it on your TBR for before your daughters go to Kindergarten.

    Until then, keep telling them how brave, smart, and kind they are. The most important person they'll receive messages from is YOU!

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    1. Thanks Stacey! I love that your physician asks those questions to make conversation with Isabelle. I have not read that book, but I just requested it from my library. Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, I also needed that reminder that I am the most important person they will receive messages from ... I am. :)

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  11. Stacey used the word intentional. I think that many people in our society intend to compliment, but they unintentionally place importance on appearances by only focusing their compliments there. We can counterbalance that ourselves, but I think this is a conversation we need to keep having in our social spheres. These kinds of conversations may eventually bring change.

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    1. I completely agree with you. Intentional vs. unintentional ... it's the underlying importance, but balance seems to be the theme in the comments. I so needed to hear that reminder.

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  12. Yes, they are both beautiful and cute and adorable, but also the qualities that they are building inside is what is more important. You are building that confidence thru love and nurturing. Love ya, Mom

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    1. Thanks Mom for your words of encouragement. You never did mention how hard this parenting thing is ... and all that I get to worry about! :)

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  13. You summed it up "beautifully" because you are caring, smart, and a great mother! You're a great blogger too, but hopefully you already know that! :)

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    1. Aw, thanks Amy. It's my little corner of the world to write in and I am so thankful for your comments! I appreciate your kind words. Now that's beautiful to my ears! :)

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  14. They will think of beauty in the way you measure it, value it, live it - and they are, therefore, in good hands, Michelle!

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    1. Thanks for this reminder Tara -- "in the way you measure it, value it, live it"!

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  15. I have a two year old daughter and the same things worry me. I'm hoping I'll be conscious of how I speak to hear and around her. It's hard because of course I think she's the cutest little thing that ever was! But I don't want her to grow up thinking that that's some sort of main part of her identity. I want her to grow up confident in herself, her whole being, not in that she's the cutest little girl ever :)

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    1. Again, the theme I'm hearing over and over is balance. You said it best -- "to be confident in herself, her whole being"!

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  16. This is definitely such an important topic, Michelle, and one that thankfully I'm hearing a lot more about lately. I just finished reading Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir (by Liz Prince), and while her experiences and views growing up were a lot more extreme than mine, there were so many parts that I related to -- particularly the feeling of not identifying as a pretty girl and not wanting to. An old Modern Family episode we stumbled across the other day was about the same thing -- Alex didn't want to wear a dress because she didn't feel that she was pretty, she was the smart one. Now that I'm having a girl, I will definitely be thinking about this even more carefully!

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    1. Congrats!! A baby girl!! It's amazing how we are bombarded by the definition of beauty, but after writing this slice, my definition has grown!

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  17. Your "I love you because..." statements remind me of the posters you made and we hung in our classrooms to cover the walls during PARCC. These are important messages for all kids - no matter how old. I need another set to hang in our upstairs hallway for my daughters!!
    PS Your words of wisdom continue to inspire me every day!!

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    1. Yep. That's where I found those phrases!!! :) Perhaps we do make a second set for home, yours and mine. Cute little black frames. I love it. Sometimes WE need those reminders too. :)

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  18. Michelle,
    What incredible messages you are sending!

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.