Many of you may have already seen the article in the Huffington Post, “How to Talk to Little Girls” by Lisa Bloom who also wrote the book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.
You can either take my word on the article or go read it at the link above first, but the gist is how we as a society should talk to little girls less about how pretty and sweet they look and more about intellectually stimulating topics like politics and social disparities.
This is why I said to read the link first as I may have taken some liberties there.
Lisa Bloom includes in her book this statistic:
“I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly…”
And goes to mention in the article,
“Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23.”
While I don’t know where her stats are coming from, I’m sure that on the whole and in regards to the US population it’s likely true to a large extent. However, I can’t help but play Devil’s Advocate and dispute that why these stats are even in existence is the belief that because we tell little girls how cute they are in their pretty dress or how sweet they look with their hair in curls. People have been participating in the stereotypical “oohing” and “aaahing” of baby girls long before the 21st Century, but it wasn’t until this single past generation (maybe two) that girls were found to be struggling with eating and body dysmorphic issues on the grand scale we see today.
Without risking turning this into another of my long, rambling posts that don’t have a point, I’m going to go against what may be the popular opinion and say that it’s not the way we talk to our little girls that makes them think they are not good enough physically; it’s the way we talk to each other – AND ABOUT each other – as adults. Just look at our newly crowned Miss USA.
THIS is the image we present to our children that can make a self-conscious girl think she’s not good enough, whether physically or intellectually. I can’t believe that by telling my daughter she looks pretty in the her tutu and a glitter-covered crown that I am setting her up for a low self-esteem. I also make sure to temper the compliments with equal opportunities with how funny and clever she is. My son is not left out either. I acknowledge when he looks nice dressed for church, especially now that he chooses what he wants to wear. When I compliment him on how nice his hair looks it would be silly for me to worry that he may be hit the Rogaine at 16.
Lisa Bloom’s advice seems sound at first, but it misses the mark as to why our children are obsessing over looks at younger and younger ages.While we always need to be aware of what we say to our children, we need to be much more conscious of what we say around them when we talk about our own peers, family and especially the strangers walking by.