Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Skin Deep?


I've lived in this house for over nine years. And I seriously believe I can count on both hands the times I've stepped outside without makeup. I don't mean full on beauty-pageant stuff. I'm just talking a swipe of mascara and lip gloss. Still neurotic, though, right? Not walking to the mailbox until I've taken a quick look in the mirror? Dabbing on "a little something" before I go to the gym or the pool?

But this is important, now, because I'm raising a daughter.

A daughter who watches my every move and imitates my every action. One who often asks if her hair looks pretty "Like Sleeping Beauty's hair?" and begs to wear my lipstick and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could I curl her hair, just once?

However, here she is with a mother who isn't confident in my own beauty. A mother who sometimes counts my own worth in a number on the scale or how my hair behaves, instead of the paintings I made with Evie at the kitchen table yesterday or the books I read to Ethan very early in the morning or the times my heart throbs with love for my children.

My first instinct, when Evie asks "Do I look like Gabby from Desperate Housewives?" is to tell her just how beautiful she is. That her eyes are radiant and her hair is so pretty when it curls in the back and her little bow lips are the most perfect thing I've ever seen. I want her to know just how beautiful she is.

But I also want her to know how much more there is than looking beautiful. In this culture, we are so bombarded with images of beauty and sex and youth. And the sad thing is, it has soaked into my brain. Being pretty can feel better than being nice.

So how do I teach her that yes, she's beautiful. How do I teach her that, yet teach her not to care? I want her to be confident, but to know other things count more. I want Evie to think it's more important to love like Jesus, to be kind, to share things we have with others who don't have as much, to forgive. I want her to think it's more attractive to be smart and to dream big than to have shiny hair. When she's 20, I want her to be happy to have a healthy body and not just a body that looks good in a bikini.

I want her to BE beautiful, and not just look beautiful.

My own reality is warped, though. I know all the things on the inside count more. I know it. But I also feel so judged by my appearance. How do I teach her to be different?

And so I'm at a new place in my parenting journey. Teaching Evie NOT to be like me. Here's my first venture into "Do as I say, not as I do." I'm going to give it my best shot, and we'll know in about 15 years if I got it right!

10 comments:

Heather said...

I think that maybe this is where the old saying, "Girls are harder than boys comes in." I know in my own journey, I wanted my daughter to be confident and not care what other people think of the outside. I have suffered from lack of confidence all of my life. While something I have said must have made a difference ( she is SO confident--almost too much) she still looks at herself and doesn't like what she sees. This is what mainstream media has done and will continue to do to all of us until we figure out the code to shut it off.

I have no doubts that you will raise your daughter (and your son!) to be highly confident and intelligent people, comfortable in their own skin. You are already doing a better job than I thought I would. :)

Sara @ Life With the Two said...

I read a study a few years ago, that children are lead by their gender roles, even with no outside influence leading their decisions. Boys will go for the trucks, and girls will go for the princess stuff almost 100% of the time. So, even if you didn't check the mirror before going outside, she would probably still want to wear the lipstick and get her hair done. She's a girly girl.

Because you recognize that it's something you're going to have to work on, I think you're going to be just fine. One of those "admitting you have a problem is the first step" kind of things. And I'm also pretty sure that Miss Evie is going to be JUST FINE. I mean, seriously. Have you MET her momma? She's pretty awesome!

Prasti said...

that's definitely very challenging. i'm right there with you...we try very hard to make sure that our 4 y.o. daughter does not end up with some warped image of beauty. but it is hard, like you said. i try to keep the whole idea of drawing your worth and value from Jesus and not the world in the forefront of my mind and i think it has helped me guide my daughter in the same direction. we also make a point to do daddy-daughter dates which we think will help teach her how she should be treated as a woman, how to keep her body holy for the Lord and her husband, and also help make her feel beautiful inside and out :).

love said...

this is so important. i was basically going to say everything Prasti did.

except, also, i think you have time to still change this for YOU. i think you still have time to teach her to do as you do! how can you expect her to believe she is perfectly made if you don't believe you are? [trust me, i'm "preaching" to myself here!] i really do try to focus on appreciating what i like about myself...inside and out. i never talk down about my looks or weight or hide from the camera when they want to take my picture. it's not because i think i'm so gorgeous...it's because i want them to see their biggest role model comfortable & loving herself. HARD, but you can do it!

love said...

ps--my friend does a fairly regular blog post where she posts what she loves about herself that week. i think that is a wonderful reminder. whether it is her humor or her slender fingers, we need to believe these things about ourselves.

Team Russi said...

I clicked "next blog" and found your post. What a great topic, and something we all have to think about as an adult influencing a child.

Good luck with your little beauty, makeup or not! She is a doll.

Ashton said...

Well she is absolutely beautiful for sure!

Nezzy said...

Dang if I wasn't raised in the every good barn looks better painted era. I too will go all natural when it's just me and the cows but baby when I leave the Ponderosa this face must have make-up. Even if it's just a trip to a junkyard with Hubby.

I don't know how to break the cycle and in all my obsessiveness after almost 58 years it probably won't.

Now my sweet DIL will visit and I'll apologize for not havin' make-up on and she'll go...that's without make-up! My daughter does go out into public without the mask...no worries so maybe yours will too.

I'm tryin' to touch base with everybody after a long summer of shingles.

God bless ya and have a terrific day!!!

Nell@LoveLetters said...

Hoping everything is okay with you and your sweet little family!

Nell

Nezzy said...

What a sweet, sweet post!

When it's just me and the wild~eyed cattle I'm a 'natural' kinda chick but baby I won't go to a junk yard without my make~up on.

Silly Huh! I too sent my daughter a double message I guess although she turned out marvelous...if I do say so myself.

You and your family have a wonderfully blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving sweetie.

BTW:Giveaway...my place..ya'll come!!! Woohoo!!! :o)