One of the MOST important things to me about raising my son, or any children is to provide them with a solid foundation for positive self-esteem and body confidence. I want to help him feel that his body and appearance are a part of him; not his whole self.
I also want him to feel safe and comfortable in his own skin. He shouldn’t have to strive endlessly toward an unattainable, Westernized standard of what’s good looking and what’s not.
And it certainly shouldn’t start in their toddler years.
That’s why I was saddened to see my friends little girl had a childs makeup kit in her toy box at 4 yrs old. She was allowed to put makeup on, not just sparkly lip gloss or nail varnish but full makeup including eye liner. I was shocked.
After the sadness, I was mad. Then annoyed. Why are we marketing this junk to little girls? We certainly don’t market it to boys!
Then I looked inward and realized I might be a hypocrite. After all, many days my son sat and watched me put on makeup and was fascinated. So what message am I sending to him or to any young child? And how can I explain it?
I wear makeup because I do feel better in it, I wear it for me not for anyone else and that’s the absolute truth. So I wont feel guilty about it, I would promote this to anyone that asked, do what makes you feel good. Do it for you not anyone else.
Staying on a similar subject the other day, my friends daughter approached me at breakfast and starting complimenting my clothes.
“I like your shirt.” “Oooh this is pretty.”
“The flowers on your shirt are pretty.”
I stifled a sigh of frustration.
She was being nice, of course. Shouldn’t I be grateful? So why would I be frustrated about a seemingly sweet compliment? Sadly I had started to notice this sweet innocent littles girls obsession with beauty and being pretty.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the word “pretty” about myself. Most times, it was probably about flowers or someone else.
When I comment on my sons appearance, it’s usually much more descriptive.
“Cool you have planes on your socks!”
“Wow, that yellow jumper looks so bright and cheerful”
But I did also remember the times we had told him how good looking he was, and how cute and that started from as young as 1yr old.
I’ve written before about why we need to stop valuing girls first for their appearance. There are so many more interesting topics of discussion with children.
And yet, at this young age, they have internalized messages from other people that “pretty” is a compliment. That “pretty” applies to things we wear. That “pretty” is a GOOD thing.
I know what you’re thinking… it’s not a bad thing either. Yes, true. I want my son to feel valued based on his skills, strengths, talents, personality, and interests.
Sometimes it makes me want to shield him from the world around us. But we can’t do that. After all, I don’t have the patience for home-schooling, that is becoming increasingly obvious in the current situation in the world.
The foundation we build at home
It hit me a in a pretty big way… the foundation we give our child is way more important than what he hears or learns on the outside.
Of course, we’ll continue to discuss with him the messages that he hears at school, from friends, and from other adults.
But he will build his character at home.
And it starts with us.
We are the very first role models
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with a mum who promoted extremely positive attitudes about bodies and food. She didn’t diet. Didn’t obsess about her thighs. Her examples provided me a rock-solid foundation for my body image. That doesn’t mean I think I’m perfect by know mean, but I will look at the good as well as the not so good. I will work harder on my fitness, my mindset and yes my appearance as I know all of these things add up to a happier me.
Girls’ self-confidence isn’t always inherent, it doesn’t happen overnight, and it can waver throughout the years.
Can we expect our sons/daughters to feel good about themselves if we always criticize ourselves?
Will our children come to us with their problems if we don’t take the time to establish their trust?
Will they feel like leaders if we don’t?
I don’t know, but I will give him the tools to grow into the rock star I know he is!
Do you wear makeup? Have you talked about it with your children? If you have any ideas on how we can spread body positivity and confidence I would love to hear them!