Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pretty Silly

Recently the whole family was eating dinner out at a local restaurant. Child #1 was eating a bacon wrapped hamburger minus the bun (in keeping with her South Beach approach to nourishment).

Child #2 was eating everyone's pickles (in keeping with his love of vinegar flavored foods).
I was drinking a Bloody Mary and my husband was checking something on his iphone. In other words, a perfectly typical night out with the family.

I looked at my pickle-noshing, meat-eating offspring and said, "I wonder what you guys will be like when you grow up?" The real surprise, given the general noise level of my children, is my statement was heard and answered.

Child #1 immediately set down the piece of bacon she was gnawing on and said, "No offense mom, but..." Then her statement tapered off into giggles.

"Child #1," I said. "Statements that begin with 'no offense' are almost always offensive."

She laughed. "Okay, It's something you've said lots of times but I'm worried you might be offended if I say it."

"Out with it," I told her.
"Well," she paused, took a reassuring bite of her bacon and said, "I think when I grow up I'm going to be just like you, except a whole lot prettier. No offense!"

Child #1 was more worried than she should have been.

I wasn't offended. Not even a little bit. But, there was a time when a statement like that would have brought forth all my insecurities. I told her she was absolutely right but even while I was reassuring her she hadn't offended me I couldn't help wondering how I got from point A to B.

Maybe I've grown up, maybe I've become less vain. It's hard to say, but in keeping with my growth theme for the month of April I'm going to look at that journey more closely and invite you to talk about it too.

When does it happen and where is the transition between worrying about whether we're pretty, have flabby thighs, our noses are too big/small or our hair is too curly/straight. How do go from obsession to acceptance and most importantly, how can we make that transition happen earlier for the little girls in our lives.


Beylit said...

I don't have any good answer to that question, but I would love to find out.

Rick Daley said...

I hope she hangs on to the self-confidence and self-image as she gets older!

Unknown said...

That picture of her is so cute! She looks like she could be naughty, though ;-)
I don't think I've entirely made the transition to not worrying about all those things yet!

Joyful Minimalism said...

I think society has a lot to do with how girls grow up into confident women.

I hope you are able to help her stay her confident self, no matter what anyone else says!

~Sia McKye~ said...

You want me to answer what? lolol! I think we all go through a stage of insecurity about our looks. I'm thinking mid teens was my real trouble times. Part of that is focus, I think.

I have a great mom who detested vain and shallow and not because she wasn't attractive, because she is. But she felt that our inner qualities were more important.

She always made comparisons between statues/sculptures and living people. No matter how beautiful the piece was, it was cold and unfeeling. It had no life. On the other hand, what's inside can enhance the outer beauty to the level of breathless.

She always said beauty was an inside job. So she focused our attentions on inner qualities. The most beautiful person can be ugly because of what's inside and someone plain in features could be beautiful when they smiled, because what was inside lit them up. Looks can fade, but inner beauty is forever.

I took that adage and added, happiness, like beauty, is an inside job. And I believe it.

We were encouraged to know our strengths-take our weak (which meant knowing them too) points and shore up the foundations. She always emphasized the inner self and developing the fruits of the spirit--biblical qualities. Kindness, goodness, love, patience, etc.

I love my mom for all the good things she taught us.

I swear, reading your blog is like having a conversation with you, lol! I can't be short in my answers, sigh...


Christine Murray said...

I wish I knew the answer to that question. My sister (8) came home from school last years saying she didn't like her thighs because they were bigger than her calves. Which is normal!

She's also naturally slim, so she's worrying unnecessarily. I wish I could shield her from all the crap we're bombarded with as women.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

"Prettier than you - no offense." I think I just hurt myself laughing.

M Pax said...

Learning to accept ourselves is key to happiness. Maybe it comes more readily with age and wisdom. Maybe we learn to accept we're fine, warts and all.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think I finally learned to accept myself as is about ten years ago. My husband and I both lost a lot of weight and I went from almost a size 14 to a 2. While that sounds great and I know a lot of women who would kill to be that size, understand that I am barely 5'3" and that middle shape. I won't ever have the shape of a model. But you know what? I am happy with that!

Johanna Garth said...

Beylit, I'm not sure if I do either!

Rick, me too!

Rachel, you caught that look, didn't you ;)

Sylvia, society plays a huge role

Sia, I strive to be that kind of mom!

Christine, that makes me so sad!!

Alex, I laughed pretty hard myself.

MPax, there's a lot of truth to that.

Diane, congratulations that such an amazing feat!

wendini1 said...

For me, it had a lot to do with finding the right man. Not because I was incomplete without a man - in fact, shortly before meeting him, I had decided that men were lovely as friends and/or pets, but that was it - but rather because he adored me at least as much as I adored him. His love helped me to finish becoming comfortable in my own skin. Our 20th wedding anniversary is this July, and we still adore each other.
It sounds like your daughter is making an excellent start. Her mom seems pretty smart. :)

Botanist said...

What a lovely story! And if you said it to her, it must be true :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'm not sure where or when we stop worrying as much about how we look, because I think I'm still in the phase where I care way too much about how I look. That's one of the main reasons why I freak out if I don't go to the gym at least four or five times a week.

Angela Cothran said...

LOL! We all hope are kids are prettier than us. My 7 year old like to start sentences off with, "Not to be rude..." I usually cut her off before she can even start. Warning someone you are going to be rude isn't a blank check to say what ever you want :)

Talli Roland said...

I think as we grow older, we learn to accept and like ourselves for who we are. It would be fab if we could make that happen for females at a much younger age.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

If my little girl said that to me, it wouldn't bother me either. Because I do think my little girl is way cuter than me, and she's going to be beautiful. But I think it's more of a proud mama thing, than a growth thing in my case. :) I'm still more vain than I'd like to be. Getting old bothers me more than I thought it would.

Ella said...

Wow, this really brought to mind many emotions and threaded thoughts~
My daughter said, the other day, "When I get old I want to look as good as you."
Ouch! but like you I looked at the words through wiser glasses.
You are growing, it takes courage to put ourselves under the spot light!
Nice to meet you! You have a beautiful family~
I'm not a fan of aging either. I don't mind the gray hair I see growing in. Why do they have to stand up like they are saluting the sun?! I'll be back to see how you are growing... I mean doing...
same thing ;D

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm not sure we can make it happen earlier. I think it comes from knowing yourself and then learning to like yourself - warts and all.

Chuck said...

I believe the answer to that is way above my manly pay grade!