I’ve written before about how I strive to help my daughter grow to be a confident and able person… Even if she visually doesn’t fit in with the status quo. I worry our culture is just so dang image-focused that it could hurt her personal image. I also worry the attempts I and others make to help encourage Jordan to look past the superficial people will make her feel self inflated. I struggle with this and regularly try to keep up with the latest books, videos and events that help teach girls and young women to be leaders.
So this topic was on my mind when I was reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants book during my vacation. She’s not only SUPER funny, she’s smart, cares about helping women succeed in the world and grew up with people looking at her differently. Have you noticed that scar on her face? She was attacked by a man with a knife when she was in Kindergarten. The rest of her youth, she experienced people talking about how awesome she was. As she writes:
“Adults were kind to me because of it. Aunts and family friends gave me Easter candy and oversize Hershey’s Kisses long after I was too old for presents. I was made to feel special.
What should have shut me down and made me feel “less than” ended up giving me an inflated sense of self. It was until years later, maybe not until I was writing this book, that I realized people weren’t making a fuss over me because I was some incredible beautify or genius; they were making a fuss over me to compensate for my being slashed.”
I don’t want to make a fuss about Jordan. But I also don’t want her to feel “less than.” Dang it’s a tricky tightrope.
So I stumbled into a fabulous blog post by Lisa Bloom. She wrote a book called Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World. She discusses how important it is for us to change the way we talk to little girls. She issues a challenge for you to talk to a young child, don’t focus on how she (or really, he) looks. Talk about anything else. In Lisa’s case, she asked the five-year-old girl what books did she like. And the conversation went in wonderful directions. She challenges readers to give it a try. It’s easy in my house since we don’t talk about being beautiful all the time. (But I will admit, Jordan will get into a dress up mode and I’ll declare her beautiful.) It’s certainly worth the consideration as we raise our kids.