Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beauty: setting an example for the next generation

Image found here

We can protest anorexic models and demand magazines use less photoshop. We can share videos about being comfortable in our own skin. (I really enjoy this video,

Photoshopping Real Women Into Cover Models).

We can demand advertising use "plus" sized women or even "real" women...
Despite some of its flaws, I'm actually a big fan of the Dove Campaign
which attempts to redefine our standards of beauty.

We can remind all the girls we know that they are beautiful inside and out and that media shouldn't determine their self worth. 
Inspirational image found here

These are all wonderful things and certainly important in changing how women perceive their bodies and themselves. In fact, I use them myself when I need a self-esteem boast. But here's the thing....

If you can't look in the mirror and see your own worth, how can you expect your daughters, nieces and little sisters to do anything differently?

When I was in teacher's college my placement teacher docked me marks because I was always belittling myself. He said, "you can't draw a picture and then say "this isn't good, but here's your example", because you're not teaching the children to be confident in their skills by undervaluing yourself all the time". Children don't just take cues from our words. They watch our actions. You can tell your daughter everyday that she is beautiful, but if she sees you look in the mirror and complain about your large thighs, or your wrinkles, she will acquire this habit too. Teacher's college was a long time ago, and although I heard what my placement teacher said, I guess I always thought he meant that I was undercutting my validity as a professional. Finally, this week, as I thought about the example I want to set for the girls in my life... I realized just how bad an example I could be by constantly belittling myself. 

Think of it this way, do you want your girls to feel as insecure as you do about your body? Would you want them to have to experience that in anyway? Then why are you doing it to yourself? They will follow your example more than your words, so don't just remind them everyday that they are beautiful inside and out, refuse to be negative about your own imperfections. If you aren't a size zero, or if you are; if you hate your body, or if you hate something else about yourself, try to get over it... if not for your own sake, for the sake of those girls (and boys) who look to you for direction even when you don't know they're watching.

And I would challenge you to remember, it's not just the way we talk to our children that determines their future, but the way we talk about ourselves.

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