As a mother- I work overtime to continually counteract my daughter’s negative statements with positive ones. I’ve also forked over a cool, $399 for new frames and spent many an early morning before she heads to school burning my fingers to a crisp straightening her hair.
Yet I wonder; perhaps working overtime attempting to help her attain a look she is pleased with is the wrong way to go about it. And the bottom line is, short of hiring Louis Licari as her personal hair stylist and Rachel Zoe to meet her wardrobing needs- no amount of reassurance on my part is going to assuage her of her insecurities.
How can I teach my daughter the definition of real beauty- and that this physical stuff is unimportant compared to what lies beneath the exterior? Every day I’m shuffling….trying to indoctrinate her with knowledge, encourage her academic and intellectual pursuits and convince her these are traits which are far more worthy and as seductive as that pin straight hair she pines for….but feeling like I’m engaging in an uphill battle and that we’ve only just begun.
According to Silvana Clark author of 12 books, including 12 Going on 29: Surviving Your Daughter’s Tween Years (Praeger Publishing), the best way to help young girls find their inner beauty, parents (and especially moms) need to de-emphasize good looks.
Sounds simple, Ms. Clark notes but for starters moms need to do away with statements like these; “Let me help you fix your hair so it looks cute,” or “Let’s go to the mall and buy you a new outfit for Grandma’s birthday party.”
She suggests moms come up with other mother daughter activities than going to the mall. Go on a local hike, ride bikes together or do something unique like checking out an art exhibit you normally wouldn’t attend. There’s nothing better than getting young girls involved in volunteering and helping others, says Ms. Clark. Moms and daughters can volunteer to walk dogs at a local animal shelter; especially since the dogs don’t care if you come with messy hair and worn-out jeans. All These experiences ultimately teach girls that what they do is more important than what they look like.
Of course all this being said, in regard to society’s obsession with appearance and not letting those messages enter my realm of thinking: according to Jan Thomas a mom of two tween daughters, that’s not entirely possible.
“If there is a brand of clothes that has magic powers to make them feel pretty, I’m all for it. Living in Southern California, there’s no way to avoid the very close connection between feeling “good enough” and outward beauty,” says Ms. Thomas. “That’s just not going to change because confidence in your outward appearance helps allow your inner real beauty to shine.”
However, in her effort to get her tween daughters to believe and appreciate that, just as they are, they are indeed enough, and to soften the impact of outside pressures she created a bracelet with the words I am enough. Her company www.LovedUnconditionally.com which produces these bracelets does so with the intentions that the girls wearing them will be provided with this loving and powerful reminder throughout their day that they are already enough by default. And once they have that confidence, they can move forward with that extra boost.
As mothers, when it comes to teaching our daughters about real beauty, we need to work from the inside out. And next time I hear even the slightest bit of self defeatist speak I will take her face into my hands and tell her, ” just as you are, simply put, you are enough.”