Don’t just say “don’t tell little girls they’re pretty.” Teach the boys to show them there is more to them than their body. Just because you tell them that they’re more than their appearance and raise the next generation of girls in a way that teaches them to respect themselves on an intellectual level doesn’t mean that it’ll actually change the way they see themselves. Just because mom and dad tell their daughter she’s pretty or just because an aunt or a sister or a brother tell the girl she’s smart and compassionate and can conquer the world doesn’t mean she will believe it. As long as body image, the “thigh gap”, diet trends, “skinny is the new healthy”, or whatever other bullshit this society comes up is thrown in the faces of the little girls we’re raising, no one stands a chance. The self-hate and body image issues in our society are problems that we are all responsible for. Yes, our girls need to learn how to be independent. But it’s our job to teach them. They don’t need to be told that they can take care of themselves, they need to be shown.
But with that also comes a reconstruction of how we raise little boys. Our male dominated society tells women that we actually can’t have everything we want; that we will have an uphill battle to fight. It tells us that even if we are intelligent, men are still going to be our superiors. Our thoughts and our intellect, though on the same level as our male counterparts, will only get us “so far”. The extra piece that puts women over the top is the sex appeal. It’s how we look. In our culture, appearance is weighed heavily. This needs to be tackled on a deeper level.
Gender should be thrown out of the equation completely when it comes to the professional world; the stereotypes that precede both males and females need to be dissolved. Gender has nothing to do with someone’s capability provided that the drive to succeed is there. Our looks, our body shape, and the amount of makeup we wear should never be a factor. This issue stems, in part, from the way we were raised. So, if we are taking a stand and rallying behind idea that we won’t tell little girls that they’re pretty and that they are worth more than what we see, then we need to tell little boys that beauty isn’t just skin deep. Tell little boys that while little girls are beautiful, or attractive, or wearing pretty clothes, there is still more they have to offer. Teach little boys to bring back chivalry.
Guys, I’m telling you to start opening doors for your significant other. Send her flowers “just because”. Kiss her on the forehead just because you want to. Hold her hand in the car. Encourage her to dress modest; bring “class” back. Teach our little boys that a girl is not just what clothes she wears and how much makeup she puts on. Take girls on dates. Travel together. Actually have conversations that don’t involve social media. Read the paper together, have coffee, go to art shows and movies. Go on walks at the river. Read books. Go to museums and stay out of the bars. Pay attention to the type of music you listen to. Cook her dinner instead of waiting for her to cook for you. Do the laundry if she’s had a rough day. Split up the chores, and include the whole family. Model these behaviors for the little boys who are so eagerly trying to be just like you. Respect their mom. Respect your daughters. Show the girls the type of guy they should want to be with. Show the little boys how to be that guy.
Respect is crucial in creating a society where we are loved and appreciated for everything our personality entails and everything our minds can accomplish. And choosing to raise our kids, boys and girls alike, in a world where beauty isn’t everything is exactly the right place to start.