This month, one prevalent topic that seems to keep reoccurring in my life is the importance of a positive body image. I recently watched a television program and had my 8 year old daughter question me on Beyonce's new video, "Pretty Hurts". It made me reminisce back to my youth when the "positive body image" anthem was "Unpretty" by TLC. I got the message of the song because my mother had instilled within me a love for myself so deep that even when I felt "unpretty", I knew it was only a temporary feeling and turned my "swag-meter" to 1,000 with self-praise. As I strolled down memory lane, I pondered whether or not I had instilled the same values in my own children.
I ran through a quick mental check list:
(1) You are special, if for no other reason than you are a child of God, created in his own perfect image. - Check! We read the bible and attend church at least 3x a month.
(2) You are as smart as you want to be - Check! I have repeatedly told them that they are smart enough to accomplish anything they put their mind to with the right training and hard work.
(3) Nobody can make you feel inferior, your acceptance of their judgement does - Check! I know for sure at least 2 of my girls will tell you to take a hike if you even think of offering your opinion of their hair or fashion-sense.
But was this enough? I decided to speak to my oldest on her opinion of herself and what she felt the video meant. She expressed a couple of issues regarding her appearance and what she'd like to change; which I have to admit was a little funny seeming as how I never really thought of changes to my appears until Junior High. But, kids do develop faster these days...I guess...right? After some thought I figured this wasn't too absurd, my daughter is a bit mature for her age. We continued to talk and at some point she expressed a correlation between Beyonce's treatment in the video and the movie, Bully, a cinematic experience offered by her school to educate children on the consequences of bullying. I found her comparison interesting. I mean, think about it, we're all mentally bullied into a way of thinking and conceptualizing beauty. We are held to societies and the fashion industries standards and when you don't fit, you're ostracized in a way. I went on to tell her how she was "quite the little genius" and to "never conform". I reassuring her one more time that she was made perfect in God's image and that the only way to one day understand true love was to first love yourself.
I walked away proud, because although she may not understand fully everything I said, I know that she is at least alert enough to know that passing judgement on someone based on their appearance is unfair, even if that person is yourself. Plus I figured, for her to have this perception and be a tiny resident of NYC, gives a nod of approval to my parenting. <smiling>