The other day I was helping Shiloh get ready for the day. She picked out her dress, and we chose a matching bow. I went to set her feet on the ground, and told her to go show daddy her outfit for the day, like we do almost daily. She instantly pulled her feet up, making it impossible to set her down, and started crying.
This is very unusual for her, so I set her back up on the changing table and asked her what was wrong. She very clearly said, “I not pretty.” My heart just about broke.
She didn’t feel beautiful, and therefore didn’t want to go show her dad what she was wearing. But how does a 2 year old even have this feeling already, much less understand it? I quickly began talking to her about how beauty isn’t appearances, it’s who you are as a person. Your heart, your soul. She then went out and Josiah gave her a similar talk.
While he was talking to her I began to realize that this self deprecating talk had to have come from me. It had to have been modeled by me, because I am the only one in our family that even remotely says things like that. I don’t sit around criticizing myself in the mirror all day, and I definitely try not to say anything in front of her. However, I don’t think we all realize how often we are putting ourselves down throughout the day without even meaning to. It’s just in our vocabulary.
- I feel so fat today
- I hate this outfit
- Nothing looks good on me
- I don’t look pretty today
- I am looking rough
The list could go on and on.
In reality, these things we say are not always due to low self esteem, but more because of self deprecation. We see the need to diminish our value for one reason or another, and none of them being good. The problem with this kind of talk, is that even if you don’t really believe it at first, it will start to mean something to you. And the people around you, like our daughters, will begin to think that same way too.
If girls are seeing and hearing their mothers talking badly about themselves, their appearances, their bodies, they are going to believe those things about themselves. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of girls, especially when they are so young and impressionable, really look up to their mother. She is the most beautiful woman in the world, and when she says she isn’t, their daughter instantly thinks, well if mom isn’t beautiful, I certainly am not either.
Once you have children, you are constantly being watched. They see what we do and say, and they copy. Sometimes this is sweet and cute, but other times it is disappointing. Sometimes it shows us how we truly act. Instead of being so disheartened by this, hopefully we can use instances like this to better ourselves. Find ways to improve in our weakest areas. If not for us, them for them. Our sweet children.
I recently read an article written by the NYC Girl’s Project that talks about girl’s self-esteem, and how it is becoming an issue at a younger and younger age every year. Take a look at these stats:
- Over 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.
- By middle school, 40-70 percent of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body, and body satisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15.
Just let those sit with you for a moment. 10 year olds are in 4th grade. 80% of 4th graders are afraid of being fat. Why is this? What is this culture that we have created where so many little girls are spending their time in fear of a physical feature instead of playing?
The other day my mother in law and I were talking about how ignorance is bliss. I told her that that must be why children are so happy. But are they really anymore? They are not ignorant. They are very aware of the beauty and body expectations. They are truly scared of gaining a few pounds. That does not sound like bliss to me.
These are very real issues that young girls are facing, some of you, your daughters. If you’re a girl, we’ve all been there, we understand the expectations and pressures. But the sad thing is that this is starting earlier and earlier with girls, and I hate to say this, but I think some of this is attributed to mothers. This self deprecating talk that we grew up hearing, and may be using, has now worked its way into our adult lives. Even if it doesn’t have the same power over us as it used to, it now is putting that pressure on our daughters. We can’t do this anymore. For their life, their health, and their good, we have to see ourselves and tell ourselves we are beautiful.
In a book by Brene Brown, called Daring Greatly, she talks about how we cannot expect our children to be more than we are for them. For example, if you are trying to teach your son the importance of having a clean room, and give him the best pep talk of your life, but then turn around and never clean your room, your actions are going to speak a lot louder than your words. What we do affects them so much more than what we say to them.
If we are telling our daughters to love themselves, but don’t model that for them, then our efforts are out the window. We have to be more for them. We have to be more for our daughters. We have to be beautiful and comfortable in our own skin for our daughters.
This is something that I don’t think will come easy. The intentions are good, but the follow through is hard. Like I said earlier, I think so much of it is just in our vocabulary. But this is such an important issue, and I want to help however I can.
Think of the places in your home that you are most likely to say degrading things. Maybe the bathroom or in front of your closet mirror? I have attached an image below with a quote. “Be beautiful for you, and all those after you.” I think we have to remember that we are speaking truth into more than just our lives when we are seeing the beauty in ourselves. For every spot that you may have those thoughts, I want you to print out one of these as a reminder that you are beautiful. And if you don’t believe it for yourself yet, believe it for that little hand holding onto your leg, copying your every move.
We can beat this. One day at a time, one affirmation at a time.