Hello Beautiful Ladies, Gents Girls and Boys,
This post is for all of you. The photo above is when my daughter was younger, maybe 5 years old, she was full of confidence and knew she was beautiful, really, she would tell us this all the time and you had to pull her away from any mirror. Sadly, now that she is about to turn 10, things have changed.
I was watching a talk on www.ted.com, one of my favorites places to learn and educate myself, check it out. Today I watched a talk given by Meaghan Ramsey, it was about the self esteem and self image of our youth. It reminded us of when we were little and would kiss our reflection in the mirror. We loved how we looked, even with red cheeks, drool running down our face and chubby little legs. As we age, suddenly we never look good enough and we base how we feel on how others say we look.
This talk hit home for me because just last night my daughter told me with such excitement, “no one has picked on me at school since Monday.” It was Wednesday. She has been dealing with low key as I call it normal mean kids at school. She is almost ten. She had long hair and really wanted it cut to her shoulders recently. After months of begging me as I loved her long hair, we let her get it cut. She was so excited because as a benefit she found out her hair was long enough to donate it to locks of love so that a little girl or boy could have the joy of hair.
She got ready for school the next day, looking a few years older and super confident. She bounced her new look as she headed off to school. When I picked her up that day, she was another little girl. When her sad little face got in the backseat I asked her what was wrong. She told me that all day long she was picked on and told she looked ugly and that she looked like a boy. Even her closest friends made fun of her. My heart just sank for her.
I was always trying my best to teach her it was how she felt about her self that mattered, not the kids in school. That is easy to say but when your child is devastated as she was, none of that matters. I consoled her on the way home, empathizing with her feelings and weaving in the reminder that she loved her hair that morning, that she looked older and was always beautiful and that she was deciding how to feel, they were not making her feel that way. I reminded her that only mean people would make fun of someone because of how they looked and that she was not that type of person and that made her more beautiful than any of them.
By the time we got home she was more confident, as we walked in the house, she was swinging are arms back and forth as we held hands, now swinging her hair back and forth because she loved how it felt, she said to me that those kids didn’t matter, she loved her new hair and they were just mean. This made me happy that she was able to bounce back.
The next few days the mean comments continued, I know in the moment they upset her, but her self esteem was something we worked on at home so she was able to handle it better each time. She was learning the more she ignored them and continued to swing her hair and smile they seemed to lose interest in picking on her.
I let her know that people will pick on her the rest of her life, not everyone will like her and she will not like everyone. I let her know that what was most important was how she felt about herself and how she chose to treat others.
This is an ongoing teaching for our children. We can’t talk about self esteem just one time, it is like doing the math homework we hate or forcing them to read, we must address how others make them feel and how they feel about themselves daily to ensure they grow into confident adults. It reminds me that she learns from what I say and do too. I try to look my best and she tells me I am beautiful often, but I am sure she hears comments about my aging face or the fact that I need to drop a few pounds, but we need to be careful of how we model how we look and feel for them.
I did not grow up with the same message as she did, I was the ugly little girl with skinny legs, mad curly hair, I was picked on all the time, as an adult I did not realize the impact that must have had on myself esteem. This would impact my life as I did not have real confidence in me until late thirties. When I met my husband, the fact that he thought I was beautiful was enough, then when he beat me down later iwth how ugly, fat and useless I was and that no one would ever want to be with me but him, I was fully brainwashed. I truly felt that what he said was true. It took years before I could look at myself in the mirror and not turn away quickly. To read an older post I wrote about being able to see yourself in the mirror after abuse check out this link or search the site (mirror) http://wp.me/p1giU-9y
How do you help your children to be confident to deal with how others may perceive them? Are you focusing on the entire child? Imagine if we all looked the same, we could be judged on what we did, how we acted. It should be this way. If you teach your children to think this way, they won’t pick on others and they will focus on who they are, not how they look.
Love & Peace,