Oh summer! Hasn’t it been lovely? I work at school and I get summer off (which is AWESOME!) so I rarely dress up and I really rarely fancify my hair or wear makeup in the summer months. Yesterday though, after months of glorious mascara-freedom, I had to (read: chose to) wear makeup for some professional photos. My seven year old daughter asked me “why do you have black stuff on your eyelashes?” That’s a great question isn’t it? You try answering that to a little girl who you’ve told over and over again that beauty is on the inside and that the way she looks on the outside is perfectly her and beautifully created.
It got me thinking. There are so many very strange things that we do to ourselves in this world that are considered mainstream. We have seen and done them for so long that they just seem normal now, but to young eyes they seem off kilter, because in reality, they really are off-kilter. For instance:
Nail polish. Its totally normal and acceptable to paint our fingernails with colored paint and it is considered pretty. Because, why exactly?
High heels. We walk on a little pogo stick underneath our heel and its considered fancy and sexy. Clearly our feet are not angled at a 45 and they are not meant to put our entire weight onto the ball of our foot. Did you know that they make high heels for little girls now? I’m not talking about dress up stuff, but like, real high heels for small youth sizes. I’ve explained to my daughter, who sees these on her first grade classmates, that she can’t have them because they aren’t good for her developing feet bones. “Well then why do you wear them?” Uh, (in a sheepish and unconvinced tone) because my feet bones are done developing. Really though, we all know that they aren’t good for us.
Makeup. I already kind of covered this, but I was wondering, have you watched Survivor? They are makeupless and razorless for 40 days and the viewers get used to seeing them in their natural state. But then the finale. They arrive all dolled and hairsprayed up and you can’t even recognize them. Why is this mainstream? Why aren’t natural eyelashes ok? Why are freckles hidden? I just don’t get this. I go along with it, but I don’t get it.
Carl’s Jr Commercials. I know that bacon cheeseburgers are best enjoyed near scantily clad women riding mechanical bulls, but kids don’t. Ok, I don’t either. In fact, this one really irks me. We mostly restrict TV to PBS kids (yay for commercial free!) but the NFL and the Olympics are not commercial free. So we ask the kids to turn off the TV during commercials so that they’re innocent minds aren’t disturbed with nearly naked women. I HATE this! I don’t want my girl thinking that ladies behave that way and I don’t want my boy thinking that ladies should behave that way.
People Magazine. Men in clothes that cover everything other than their heads and necks, next to a women wearing breast bearing tanks and booty showing shorts. This is a serious double standard! I don’t want to see the men wear anything less, I’d like to see self respecting women wear normal attire and be respected just the same. Have you noticed that little girl shorts are high to mid thigh and little boy shorts are knee length? WTH?
I better stop before my blood pressure raises any more than it already has. From what I’ve already written here, you probably think that we watch an exorbitant amount of TV, which we don’t at all, but it is where most of these instances are seen. That, and grocery store isles. And billboards. And smartphone app ads. My point here: it is everywhere. It is mainstream and that’s the whole point.
I can not hide my kids from the world. More importantly, I will not try to hide my kids from the world. They are going to fly my coop and see all of this stuff eventually. I believe that my job as a mom is to be there when they see the dangers of the world little by little so that when they leave they aren’t shocked by the world that they live in. I will not even come close to exposing the whole world to their young minds, and I hope that some of these things they never discover for themselves, but they can’t avoid all of society and so I’m here to explain and love them through the life lessons of youth.
Back to the point. My girl will probably grow up to wear makeup and shave her armpits and wear high heels because that is what the majority of what us women do. I don’t think that this is all that bad. I participate too and I don’t plan on trying to reform any of this, it doesn’t matter that much to me. In all honestly, the older I get, the more zoombiish I look without lip color. This stuff isn’t really the problem.
I want to teach my girl how to be a lady when she is surrounded by brackish and narrowly dressed women. I want her to know that she is beautiful because she just is, not because of cleavage and pogo sticks. I want her to value people regardless of their looks and style choices. That somebody who has greasy hair is as valuable as somebody who has designer shoes, and that that person is as valuable as a woman who is bold enough to accept her natural self and be free from all cosmetic enhancements. It is my goal for her leave my home with a balanced sense of self, to know that regardless of her choices in the world of mainstream, that she is worth more than all that the mainstream has to offer AND so are all of the other women around her.
I know that these lessons will mostly come from my example as a woman in this world. I can’t save her from what her peers say about the world. I can’t influence her every thought and protect her from every image. What I can do is to chose self respect and positive self speak. I chose stylish modesty and can demonstrate that these two things can actually go quite well together. I can display polite behavior and ladylike mannerisms; showing that femininity can intersect at dirt and sports and tea parties. She probably won’t slide through life unscathed and unscarred but I will do my best to raise up her strengths and boundaries, her self worth and her value for others. This all seems nearly impossible, but I’m up for the challenge. She is so, SO worth it!