Saturday, September 20, 2008

And You're Smart Too

Every morning, my routine looks basically the same as it did the day before.

I shower, do the usual things in there pertaining to general hygiene and basically stand under the warm water as long as I can before . . . my daughter jumps in and takes over the place with her stick-on shower letters and her baby shampoo. Ah, bliss, no matter how many minutes (seconds) long, is bliss. I'll take as much of it as I can.

After the shower, it's time for the hair drying. Katie hates this part and does anything she can to get herself out of it. I have resorted to letting her dig through my make-up bag so that she will stand still long enough for me to dry the majority of her hair and if I am lucky, put a few pony tails in. If I am really lucky, she'll let me braid it or even put a cute barrette in her blonde hair - but like I said, this is only if I am very lucky and have distracted her properly.

So she'll hold up the eyelash curler and pretend to curl her eyelashes, and I let her.

She'll grab the eyeliner and ask if she can use some, and I say no - little girls don't need eyeliner.

She'll get the eye shadow and, depending on the one she's chosen, I might let her apply a teeny tiny amount to her eyelid (and then swipe it off before we leave the bathroom).

She'll reach for some lipstick and I'll tell her no again, that little girls don't wear lipstick. But if she'd like some clear lip gloss, that is fine.

And everyday, we repeat this little ritual ad nauseum.

The other morning, she looked in the mirror as I was drying her hair and said, after applying a fresh coat of her very own kiwi-flavored lip gloss, "Mommy, don't I look pretty?"

To which I replied, "You always look pretty, even without lip gloss, and you're smart too."

And then she said, "Mommy, you're pretty too, but your hair is messed up."

Point taken.

I cringe every time she asks me this, if she looks pretty or not. And I always, always, always add the "smart" part because I feel like if I can't get her to stop asking about her prettyness, than darn it, I will reinforce the smart part again and again until she never doubts herself or her abilities the way I did and still do.

Maybe I'm over-thinking the whole thing, but can you blame me? Raising a girl in our beauty obsessed society is hard work. Raising a girl to believe in herself, in her inner beauty, not the outside beauty, is even harder. I want her to soar, to succeed, to believe in the person she is, not what others see when they look at her.

So, I'll keep telling her she's smart, until she believes it.


A PR firm representing Dove and the new movie The Women contacted me after I'd written this post to see if I was interested in some movie tickets (Hello? Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Bette Midler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing and a whole crew made up entirely of women? Um, yes where do I sign up?) and of course, I said yes.

Did I mention Diane English? Well, there you have it, the nail in the proverbial coffin for me, as far as movies go.

I love that they made this movie by women, for women. I love that it's about friendship, and support, and community.

I love that line where Annette Benning's character says, "This is my face, deal with it." Our society has all but airbrushed the last remains of what a real woman is supposed to look like and I refuse to bring my daughter up to believe that she isn't absolutely, perfectly, wonderful just the way she is.

I never want her to feel like she has to cover up her freckles, or that her thighs are too big. Already last week she stood in front of the horrid mirrored closet doors that grace all of our bedrooms (which are so California tacky, no offense California - but I feel like I'm in The Valley each time I look at them) and said "Are my legs big up here?" as she pulled up her shorts to reveal her thighs.

Thankfully, her big brother burst into the room and said, displaying his best bodybuilder post, "Those are your muscles, sister. Look! Just like these," pointing to his guns.

When I look into that mirror in the morning and reach for the cover-up, I need remember that little eyes are watching. I need to remember that line in the Natasha Bedingfield song, " . . . 'cause a face without freckles is like a sky without stars." And I need to be okay with that, because after all, I had the best teacher there is.

Happy 90th Belated Birthday Grandma Carol (August, 2008)

If you'd like to view a fabulous short behind-the-scenes film by . . . a woman about The Women, click HERE, you won't be sorry.

And if you get a chance, hustle your hineys out to see this movie on the big screen.


Anonymous said...

I love this post, especially because every night, before she falls asleep, I tell my little E. that she is smart, beautfiul and good. I want her to grow up believing that so that no one can ever take it away from her.

Shania said...

I make it a point to never compliment a child on their looks. I usually try to use "smart" or "you speak so well" depending on age. I agree that it's important to make sure she knows she's smart and that it's more important than being pretty.

GoteeMan said...

There's nothing wrong with telling anyone they're beautiful... beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder...
What I have educated mine about, however, is that real beauty, true beauty, is in knowing who you are and then making decisions out of who you are... kids with beautiful hearts, full of compassion, love and peace. To me, the truly beautiful person only grows more beautiful each year... one who is only outwardly beautiful has a beauty that will fade...
I want my boys to see people for their hearts, not just for their shells...

J/ (

the sits girls said...

That was a great post about your daughter and being pretty and smart. We're impressed you were contacted for tickets!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I did the exact same thing with "pretty, smart and good hearted?"

My 5'7 daughter accepted the Homecoming Dance invitation of a boy that's 5'3 without a second thought. I think that is a good sign that she's not hung up on a guy being taller than she is.

Casey said...

This is good advice, thanks. My daughter is only five months old but I'm going to try to follow this advice when she's a bit older. It's sad when our kids feel insecure at such an early age because of the media peddling waifs and beauty queens. Grrr.

Jen said...

While I do think it is fun to be "girly" (I do let my daughter wear lip gloss on occasion if she feels like it-usually a pink so nothing too scandalous)I do try to focus on the being pretty on the inside part. That is all that truly matters. I love the quote about the freckles--so sweet!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I don't think you're overdoing the adding "smart" thing, but maybe I think that because I'm overdoing it too.

Good job.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday, when Katie was learning to "sew" (along w/ her biggest bro), she looked at me and said " I wish could be my Mom's age"... I think because we were having so much fun. I asked her who would be her grandma then? And reminded her that I am very glad to be MY age (61) and then we talked about being a hundred and how some day maybe I would know her children.

She's smart. And beautiful where it counts.


3XMom said...

When my middle child was 2 we used to always call her goofy. It would get to the point that if someone said to her - you are silly. She would say "I not silly - I goofy!" When she was 3, my husband realized she needed some other attributes. So now if someone tells her she is silly or pretty or else - she will recite "I am goofy, pretty, silly and SMART!"

Becky said...

that is a fantastic picture and i totally agree on emphasizing that she's smart AND beautiful. girls need to hear both.