Friday, June 22, 2012

How to Save Our Daughters.

I just finished reading an article in Better Homes and Gardens discussing plastic surgery and "injectables" as viable options for "looking your best" for the holidays (November 2011 issue, for those of you who are curious, I couldn't find the article online).  I'm more than a little floored by this, and needless to say, I will not be renewing my subscriptions (one I've held for ten years).  More than just make me angry, this article shows just how mainstream the idea that we are not okay just the way we are has become.  We need cutting, injections, invasive surgery, tattooed eyeliner, more make-up that doesn't look like make-up, more hair dye, shinier hair, more product, more facial cleanser, skinnier waistline, less fat, ...  the list extends into eternity.

Besides my fury that ALL of this is corporate mumbo-jumbo to make us feel "less-than" so that we will purchase a particular product or line of products, I see this as extremely detrimental to the future.

Any of us who have daughters feel that those little girls are GORGEOUS.  Our daughters are beautiful.  We look at those long lashes and those pretty eyes and those rosy cheeks and adorable smiles and we see pure, innocent, loveliness.  And if we don't, it's time for a reality check, because your little girl is AMAZING.  A princess, ladies and gentlemen, is an understatement.

When we look at those little girls, we don't want them to grow up thinking that they need more make-up, more product, a nose-job, a boob-job, etc in order to "look their best".  We tell them that they are beautiful.  We long for them to see it themselves every time they look in the mirror.

But...  often...  they don't.  Why?

Because, Ladies and Gents, actions...speak...louder than words.


What to do?

1.  Stop it with the daily make-up.  

I've said before that I'm not against make-up.  But you know what?  The more I think about it.  The more Lucky magazines I get in the mail.  The more re-touching I see my husband do when he does a head-shot series for an aspiring actor or model... the more I hate make-up.  After all, why do we wear it?

We wear it because society has established a FALSE idea of beauty.  Way back in the day, only prostitutes wore make-up.  It was a sign.  It was a cover-up for the ugliness, the pain, the hurting that was underneath.  The hope that it would be enough...

Cover-up was made so that you could go out in public and no one would know you really had the Bubonic Plague (Queen Elizabeth wore quite a lot of it).

There were times in history when men wore it.  Times when eye-liner was royalty.  Different signs and symbols.

Today, it seems, at least in America, make-up is an expectation.

I've had woman apologize to me because I've seen them with no make-up as though they were apologizing for running over my beloved dog.  As though they were committing a high offense.

Ladies... this is a problem.

And when we make it a point to put on make-up in front of that mirror and our little girls see it - that is what they think about adulthood:  that you can't be good enough once you've grown up.  That your skin has to be perfect.  That blemishes make us "less than".  That no boys will like them if they don't wear it.  They see what we do and they know that no matter how many times you tell them they are pretty they will never be all the way there until they can do what you are doing.  To them, YOU are the ultimate example of beauty.  How's THAT for responsbility?

2.  Stop it with the magazines.

Every. single. magazine. you bring into your home is a huge advertisement for product.  I have learned over the past year (and maybe this makes me a fool for not noticing before) that each and every article - each and every photograph, is about selling a product.  Not always a blatant advertisement, but at very least a proposition to purchase the next issue of the magazine.

And Ladies and Gents, it's all just. stuff.  Not stuff you need.  Just. Stuff.

Everyone is selling make-up and clothing and scent and all this STUFF they tell you will make your life better.

We worry about our children watching too much television or not learning to think for themselves...  be careful what you read, what you have in your home for your children to read... everyone is selling something.  Before you read it and have your children read it, be sure it's something you want them to buy.

3.  Stop making make-up a right of passage.

My mom took me to the make-up counter for the thirteenth birthday.  It was what I wanted.

It doesn't have to be that way.

I wanted it because all the other girls in my class were wearing it.

Parents tell their girls that they can wear make-up when they reach a certain age.  It's a Big Deal.  I've decided that if my kid wants to try the stuff at age 2 then so be it.  She has her very own lip gloss, thus far.  I am sure to tell her how pretty she is when she's NOT wearing it.

Make-up should be fun, not forced, not necessary, not expected.  And if you can help it, not present at all.

4.  Stop getting cosmetic surgery.

There are women who get breast reductions because their huge boobs are causing them serious pain.  This is NOT the kind of cosmetic surgery I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the women who don't like how their nose looks.  The ones who want bigger breasts.  The ones who are fed up with getting wrinkles.

Ladies...  God made you the way you are.  He doesn't think your nose is too big.  He doesn't think your boobs need to be bigger.

Wrinkles...oh, my Dear Readers!  I can see them gathering at the sides of my eyes and all along my forehead and when I first saw them I was dismayed and afraid but please know! - wrinkles are a sign of wisdom.  They are rivers and streams of knowledge, beauty, and power.  They are the signs that you have been there, you have experienced that, you have frowned in deep thought and smiled with such joy and cried tears that left permanent paths down your cheeks and all of those things make. you. even more beautiful than before.

Our daughters need to know.

They need to know that when they're 35 and look in the mirror and see those crow's feet it doesn't make them less of a person.  It makes them so. much. more.

5.  Stop hating on yourself.

Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself."  We remember that loving our neighbor part...but we forget that we need to love ourselves too. We never stop to think when we look in the mirror and tell ourselves "NOT good enough" that this isn't what The Lord wants for us.  We would never dream of going up to our neighbor and saying "You are not good enough.  You are stupid.  You are ugly."  And yet we do these things to ourselves on a regular basis.

Stop buying into the lie that FAKE is beauty.

It's a LIE Ladies and Gents!!!  A big. fat. Satanic. lie.

And if we all stopped believing it, how much better would our lives be?

If we really believed that beauty came from the inside.

If we really believed that God made us beautiful just the way we are.

If we really believed that WE were empowered to make healthy choices.

If we really SAW what everyone looked like under the make-up and before the surgery and...  how differently we would see one another.  How differently we would see the world.

Ask yourself - if I was the only person in the world wearing make-up, would I feel the need to wear it?

If I went to the movies and SAW that Julia Roberts had a pimple that day...  would I think of myself differently?

When you love yourself - you are giving your daughter the most wonderful gift.  The gift of knowing SHE is beautiful all by herself.

And finally...

6.  Stop judging her based on her appearance.

How many of us grew up in a house where our moms mentioned the clothes we chose.  The weight we'd gained.  The outbreak of acne on our foreheads...  and told us just what we needed to do about it, even if we didn't ask.

Our moms wanted to help.

They KNOW what it feels like to feel less beautiful.  To be ridiculed by classmates.  To be mocked.

And so moms step in with facial cleanser and concealer and money for different jeans and diet ideas and Fat Camp and...

And where does that leave us?

What does it say to our daughters when we do these things we believe are loving?

It says, loud and clear, You. Are. Not. Good. Enough.  It shows how we see their flaws.  It shows that we are no different than the classmate who points out the pimple or the bully that calls us fat.  It shows that we, the mom, aren't making the effort to see the Girl Inside.  We feel the need to change her.  Cover her up.  Put her on a diet.

The fact is - self-esteem and knowledge that you ARE good enough makes all that unnecessary.  If you've got the confidence that your mom and (especially) dad see through any flaws to the true YOU inside the skin then you can face the bully head on.  You can take it all with multi-grained salt.  You can hold your head up high because you know that the people who you come home to love you unconditionally, and The World can suck it.

Moms and Dads... it's not too late.

Your daughter is a precious jewel.  Some of you already see her that way.  Some of you need to wake up and smell the sea salt.  Daughters are a fabulous gift from heaven.  But they are a fragile gift.  Don't break them.  And if you fear you already have...  break out the glue. 


Anonymous said...

Wow! Its great when you read something and see other people feel the same way. I love me the way I am and so does my husband. Even though my daughter is two I have already banned the words fat and diet. She doesn't need to hear these things! We lead by example, and my example is to love me for me, so she will have the confidence that I have. I am not perfect and don't try to pretend to be, nor do I want her growing up trying to achieve perfect.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the endless shaving of natural body hair! We, as Americans, are one of the few cultures that shaves!

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