The other day while getting ready for work, my 6-year-old daughter said something that resonated with me all day. I was putting on my makeup, a little more than usual due to the effects of the harsh winter weather and she was watching me like many mornings before. That’s when she stated, “Putting makeup on hides who you really are and you should like who you are no matter what.” She then added that she thinks I’m pretty with or without makeup. I was dumbfounded by what she had said until I realized that I was the one that had taught her that. I looked down at her bright green eyes, waiting for a reply. I simply didn’t have one. What would I have said to her? That I am insecure about my blemishes and want to look better? The old saying, “do as I say, not as I do” wasn’t going to work.
The moment sparked some serious thoughts in my head about the challenges of raising a daughter, especially in our society today. Thus far, I have made a point of being a role model for her. I show her that being educated is a high priority, women can do things just as well as men (read: hanging lights, fixing a faucet, etc.) and that being kind is a precious trait. But how do I teach her a balance between being true to herself while living in a culture that is plagued by superficiality?
My goal as a mother is to give my daughter a sense of independence and pride. I want more than anything for her to grow up and become a smart, caring and confident woman. Children, more specifically young girls, deal with so much pressure to conform to pop culture and the things society says they should be. What do I do as a young woman to set an even better example for her though? She watches me get ready each day, fixing my hair, picking out clothes to wear. Am I showing her that she should really put a lot of thought into how she looks? Or am I displaying a normal amount of care into my appearance?
In retrospect I may be thinking beyond the simple statement she made. Perhaps I should be glad that she listens to me when I tell her to be exactly who she is or that she is a wonderful little person. I can’t help but feel like I should make a point to be a little less worried about my skin tomorrow. Finding balance between self-confidence and avoiding contempt for our culture is going to be one of those long term objectives…