July 18, 2008

Mindful Parents

I found this blog post on SuperMom Central and I loved it! It was written in response to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (which is awesome by the way) which is a campaign put forth to try and enhance young girl's self-esteem and self-image.
Self-image is a very sensitive subject for me for very personal reasons and also one for which I feel very strongly about.
I heard someone say once that girls check out girls more than guys do. I believe that to be a very true statement. It almost seems inevitable that girls will take in another's appearance and compare it to theirs. Its almost as if you just can't help it. I have had more conversations with more girls than I care to remember on their own personal struggles with their bodies. Everything from being too skinny to being too fat. The strange thing is, most of them were brought on by completely different reasons. Some for sure was peer pressure, others stemmed from "loving teasing" by their own parents and family members, while others, started from some sort of emotional trauma. It seems strange that a negative self-image could stem from so many different backgrounds and I have thought long and hard on why. I suppose, just naturally, girls want to be pretty and liked and it seems as if, for most, when they aren't quite sure how to deal with their issues they are left with nothing but the mirror. I suppose that comes from a life-time of the world telling us that beautiful is this one stereo-type and no matter how hard we try, it is an ever present issue lurking in the back of our minds.
I don't know if I will ever truly, deep down, recover from my past issues but I most certainly will never let those pass on to my children, girls or boys. I often look at Savannah and wonder if she will be able to withstand the blows the world is sure to deal out to her. Sometimes being a parent can be so overwhelming.
I also feel so strongly about teaching our sons this same truth, real beauty is not what is seen on a magazine cover. I remember as a teenager hearing one of my guy friends make fun of one of our girl friends because she had put on a bunch of weight. Not only did it upset me that he would do such a thing, but it also made me wonder what guys said about me when I wasn't around. Even now I find myself getting angry when I hear someone picking on another because of their looks.
I have found it so completely amazing that SO many girls consider their worth by the amount of attention they get from guys! I suppose it is kind of natural and of course we have the media to thank for that. For many of them, that is where the struggle started. It took me a while to grasp this because at the time of my struggles, I didn't really care what the general male population thought about me. I find that in this particular case of trying to impress the male population, the father makes the biggest difference. Those who had strong, healthy relationships with their father, their issues didn't stem from peer pressure or for a desire for male attention. They had that at home and had no need to go looking for it elsewhere. However, I did talk to a girl who's father, even though they had a good relationship, use to tease her about her weight. That played a huge role in her problem.
We tend to think this is a women's problem and the mother's should take care of it. I beg to differ! The role men and father's play I would almost say is more important. They underestimate the affect they have on their girls.
So, having said all that, I hope you will check out these links so we can all me more mindful parents and adults.

http://parenting.kaboose.com/behavior/bodyimage.html
http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/parents/experts/kelly.htm
http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/body_image.html
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/News/Promoting-positive-body-image-in-our-kids.aspx?articleID=7925&categoryID=news-poh2
http://www.womenshealth.gov/bodyimage/kids/

Well, after all that I have a creepy/funny story. This last Saturday night, I got hit on at the grocery store! I mean, come on! There is a point where grown men just seriously need help. This guy was pretty creepy, he even followed me out to my car. Luckily I had only bought one thing and I walked fast and had left the door unlocked. There must be something about grocery stores. I was offered a ride to Florida once by a trucker in a grocery store, very scary.
For me, there is nothing more creepy than getting hit on. It happened once when I was six months pregnant! I don't know if it could have been more obvious that I was unavailable but I guess some guys are a little over-zealous.
Once, when my sister had come out to visit we had been out shopping and we stopped at a red light when some guys pulled up next to us and started talking to us... right up until they saw my two kids in the back seat. I hear this, "she's a mom!" and the window was rolled up pretty quickly. It was so funny.
Anyway, I find it all very creepy so this was not said to boast. Whenever it happens it truly does unnerve me, like I almost don't know how to handle it. I suppose I am still dwelling on the idea that girls like that sort of attention. One friend told me she is always flattered when she gets hit on. As strange as this may sound, I really don't understand that.

4 super cool people speak:

Heidi said...

I completely understand and agree with what you said about girls and why they compare themselves, why they view themselves as they do. I think mine began with my family (whose nickname for me was "One-Fat-Sue" and we won't get into all of the other things they said...). Then it was seeing my beautiful sister always having guys interested in her, and telling her she was pretty. (Not in a creepy way.) I found it hard not to compare how she was viewed and treated with how I was, which was completely opposite. (I suspect that flattery from being hit on--if it's not gross and creepy--is because before all there ever was was the "you are ugly" and "you aren't worth my time or attention" treatment.) Years of struggling like you, and still the only true solace I find is knowing that Heavenly Father finds me beautiful, inside and out. Wonderful subject to write about. Thank you.

Brittney said...

Very good topic. I think we all struggle with this. I like the insight the article gave of teaching your boys what true female beauty is, along with teaching your girls. Think how great it would be if your sons could help your daughters feel beautiful.

Mama Smith said...

I found this post most interesting, Sarah... After working in the YW's program for over 15 years...one of the KEY elements in a young girl's life...is HER FATHER MUST BE THE MAN IN HER LIFE...till she is of the age where she begins to seriously date in her "courting" years...and hopefully.. eventually ...meets the man who will become her eternal "companion"...THAT RELATIONSHIP between FATHER and DAUGHTER...is CRITICAL...in how she often views herself...NOT ALWAYS...but, does WEIGHS HEAVILY...

Lauren Horsley said...

Awesome post! This is such an important issue in our world today and I'm so glad you brought up the critical role played by fathers - something I hadn't really thought about, but SO TRUE. It reminds me of that John Mayer song that goes, "...Fathers, be good to your daughters..."

On a total side note, I don't know how you are surviving a pregnancy with 3 little ones under 5! You are officially my HERO!

-Lauren @ SuperMom Central

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