Hello our first post its here
It’s a Saturday morning and I hear from my teen daughter’s room: “Do you think these jeans make me look fat?” She is on a video chat with her friend. Teenage girls are notoriously obsessed with their looks. They spend hours scrolling through their social media feeds, liking and commenting on images, and countless hours at the mall shopping for clothing and makeup.
Why are looks so important to them?
It starts in infancy. At birth, we begin conditioning girls to focus on their appearance by giving them fancy dresses and bows and cooing over them. “Isn’t she pretty!” or “What a doll!” As a mother of two daughters, I’ve received compliments countless times. If you have daughters, you may have too. Despite good intentions, complimenting girls’ looks does more damage than good.
Society teaches women to value being attractive. To men. Our mothers and grandmothers pass it on to us females from a very young age. While boys can get dirty and play without a care, the standards are different for girls. I’d get scolded for spoiling my girl’s clothes. Mothers spend money and time making their girls look beautiful. The media and consumer brands fuel this frenzy. Clothing brands cater to females over males.
Are compliments harmless? My answer is no, they can carry great danger. Innocent compliments condition our girls to measure their self-worth by outwards beauty standards.
We measure girls first by their attractiveness and boys by their abilities.
Let’s look at the compliments our children receive.
A boy will hear “You are fast!”, “You are strong!”, or “You can throw far!”
A girl will hear “She’s so beautiful!”, “Adorable!”, “What a sweetheart!”
At family gatherings, we ask boys to prove their skills. “Show us how far you can throw the ball.” We tell girls: “Come here and let me look at how pretty you have become.” You may have also heard these expressions: “Strong like Daddy.” and “Pretty like Mommy.”
Measuring a girl’s worthiness for love on the scale of her outward attractiveness is downright dangerous. After all, we can’t change our skin tone, our body shape, our eye color, our hair texture, and most of our physical attributes.
How should girls feel who are born with a disability, who have body shapes that don’t fit into our narrow category of the perfect figure, or who are of a minority race living somewhere where beauty is defined by the majority race?
Throughout history, women around the world have endured pain trying to follow local beauty practices: Feet-binding, corsets, neck stretching, forced fattening, skin lighting treatments, and scarring, to name a few.
In modern times, plastic surgery has gone mainstream, and clients are increasingly young. It’s not uncommon for high school girls to get breast implants or nose jobs. Eating disorders are rampant and affect girls as early as in the pre-teen years. It is a sad world we live in that women can’t love the bodies they were born with.
We are destroying girls by holding them hostage to a “beauty above all” standard.
A recent movie, the coming-of-age film “Cuties” (“Les Mignonnes”) by Maimouna Doucouré, caused quite a stir in the USA when Netflix depicted in their marketing ad the preteen heroine and her friends in tight dance clothes and suggestive poses. #Cancelnetflix started trending and many Americans protested without even watching the film. It is a shame because Ms. Doucouré attempts to bring awareness to the over-sexualization of girls in modern culture. These girls are being raised by the Internet. I hope this film’s disturbing message will lead to awareness and action, not hate against the film.
I’m sure no father wants his daughters to be sex objects yet why is “daddy-daughter” porn a popular category on adult websites?
Why are the top-grossing pop stars and online influencers the ones who wear the skimpiest clothing and wiggle their bodies in sexual poses on-stage? A large percentage of their fan base are pre-teen girls.
We are celebrating the wrong qualities of the female.
There is something deeply disturbing about the way society grooms girls to become sex objects.
In contrast, boys are not groomed this way. For them, it is all about athletism, adventure, and business accomplishments.
Am I saying we should stop valuing beauty? No, but it shouldn’t be the most important attribute for girls. I want others to see my daughters for who they are, not how they look. I don’t want them to feel compelled to use their sexuality to get ahead in life nor be sexually propositioned as I personally was. Is this too much to ask?
So what do I suggest that we do?
I recently shared on a social platform a posting about positive affirmations I do with my toddler. This post received over 7,000 organic views in 24 hours. This overjoyed me since it renewed my hope that people care about this topic.
I have two daughters. One is a toddler and the other is a teen. While they face different issues, one thing concerns them both:
Their acceptance for who they are and the possibilities of who they can become.
I’m working to teach and model body positivity. I do this by not dieting nor following trends but loving my own body, flaws, and all. I also encourage them regularly to develop further their interests and talents. I tell them not to let anyone or anything stand in their way. I praise my girls for their abilities and talents.
Our favorite saying is “Girl Power”.
Please don’t tell my daughters they are pretty. They are worth much more than that.
As the mother of two sons as well, I feel blessed to watch them grow into self-confident, capable men. Part of being a man is to respect and value women. I’m doing my best to show them what that looks like.
We need to stop pretending boys, and girls are treated equally and start doing it. Encourage girls in your life to develop their interests instead of emphasizing their looks.
When a woman dresses nicely, let it be for her, not for others. See them first at humans before you notice their female parts. I wear a skirt and heels and makeup for me, not for anyone else. And if I don’t, I don’t want you to judge me either.
It’s up to us as a society to make the change. This is not a female issue; this concerns everyone. We can start with the little things like the compliments we give children. Tiny actions lead to massive outcomes. Let this be the gift for future generations to come.