Hello Poopies…Vlog #3 coming your way soon. In the meantime, important topic to discuss! I hope you will weigh-in…especially you Poopies out there with daughters.
I had a good friend share an article with me (see link below from Huff Post) the other day about how we greet, speak and relate to little girls upon meeting them and it REALLY got me thinking. So often when we meet a young, impressionable preschool-age girl and our innocent instinct is to ooh and ahh and tell them how cute they are and how adorable they look and how pretty their outfit is, etc. There is a constant stream of mentioning their appearance and placing value in how they look rather than a genuine interest in WHO they are, what they like, how they feel and what they are good at. I had never stopped to consider how ridiculous and rather deplorable these seemingly harmless interactions are. But honestly, as a mother of two girls who fall precisely in this age group, I need to seriously pay way more attention to these societal greeting rituals from now on. No wonder so many of our daughters grow up placing their own value and worth on how they appear instead of who they are from the inside out….we, as a society, plant this seed very early on without even realizing it.
It’s bad enough that these little girls are barraged and innundated with Disney Princesses, Barbies, Bratz Dolls, etc and pointed, deliberate marketing ploys and campaigns to make our girls want to be “pretty” (whatever the latest commercial definition of that is), “glittery,” “sparkly” and all-around “glamour girls” complete with costumes, make-up and attitudes to match. But we are equally complicit in that we reinforce it with our cultural tradition of over-complimenting their adorableness and under-inquiring about their real worth, interests, talents and ideas.
So, Poopies, I’ll let you read the article below and draw your own conclusions. But this mom definitely has made a mental shift. No longer will I remark about a little girl’s appearance when I meet her. If my girls make a new friend at the park, I will ask her what she likes, what is her favorite book, what she wants to be when she grows up and I will try to limit the comments on how she looks (even if she is adorable, no doubt all little girls are). And I hope perhaps you will do the same when you meet new little girl too. It starts with us…with our own daughters noticing how we interact and what value we place on other little girls around them, just like themselves. We must emphasize how smart they are and what they are capable of and reinforce their creativity and potential, and not undermine all of that by ooohing and ahhing about how “pretty” they are. They need to understand even at this young age that what they know and how they behave is of far greater worth than how they appear.
I want my girls to “get it” early on that how they treat people is what defines them. I want my girls to know that their talents and skills will always serve them further in life than how they look and that “pretty” will only get you so far. But character, brains, determination and kindess are far better to capitalize and focus on. I say enough with the compliments on the clothes, costumes, jewelery and hairstyles and more ooohing and ahhhing over accomplishments, interests, ideas and dreams. I’m not being idealistic and naive…I know they’re still going to want to play with dolls and make-up and clothes. Gender conditioning is what it is, especially in this country. But we do our little gals a major disservice when we continue to reinforce those stereotypes by focusing on all the same things when we meet them.
I hope you’ll be inspired by the article below and by this post. Then maybe the next time you meet a little girl you might instinctually ask them about what words they can spell or what their favorite animal or book is and what special talents they may have. Knowing you’re pretty and adorable is certainly okay, but feeling smart and talented and worthy is way more important. This is the kind of self-esteem I want to build in my own daughters – the kind based on who they are inside, not what they look like on the outside.
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