As a mom of two girls I usually feel compelled to click through when I see something out there in Internet land that is talking about body image and self esteem.
Because body image and self-esteem are definitely two of the biggest issues out there for young girls.
This week the Internet was pretty much burning up with body image and self-esteem talk between Disney glamorizing Merida for her Princess inauguration and the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO talking about how his clothes are only for the "cool kids". The good looking and skinny cool kids, that is.
I am not a reactionary person so it has taken me a few days to mull over my thoughts. I am also not an activist in any way. I am not afraid to stand up to things that I believe are wrong, in my own introverted way, especially if those thing affect my children, but I definitely am not one out there lobbying for change.
So I have spent several days reading lots of opinions about whether I should be outraged about these two events, especially as a mom of two girls.
It took me awhile to decide whether I truly believed that the Abercrombie and Fitch's CEO decision to only create clothes for the "cool kids" was going to be demoralizing for my girls. Or whether I thought that Disney's feminizing and glamorizing of Merida was going to affect my girls image of themselves as strong and independent girls.
And I decided...No
These two events will have little or no impact on girls body image or self-esteem.
Not that I don't think that the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch is a total a**. He surely is repressing some deep dark insecurities. I just don't think that his a**iness will in any way make my strong, athletic, independent girls think less of themselves.
Not that I don't think that the fact that Disney feels like they have to make Merida look more conventionally Princess-like in order to better market her sucks. I just don't think that my girls will even notice. The fact is as much as they love Disney they have just never been Princessy girls. It's just not who they are.
Now I know that people will tell me that the two events from this week are just symptoms of a bigger problem in our society. A bigger problem that is being projected onto our little girls.
But I still don't think that it will change the way my girls view themselves.
Because I believe that I have the most control over how my girls view themselves.
I think that I can control what affects my girls self-esteem and body image. And not by limiting what they watch on TV or where they shop for their clothes.
I control how I present myself to them. I control the other women and mentors who are in their lives. I control the men and boys that allowed in their life and control what is acceptable and what is not.
I do all that.
My own self-image, my own self-doubts, my own self-esteem is what will be reflected back to me in my girls.
So in my house I have made some choices.
I don't talk about diets. I talk about moderation and healthy choices.
I don't talk about getting skinny. I talk about getting stronger. Healthier. More fit.
I don't talk about a number on a scale. I talk about muscles and endurance. All three of my children love to "show their guns", their biceps.
I try very very hard not to talk about the my own body parts that I don't like in a negative way (this one is probably the hardest). Instead the girls and I joke about all of us being gifted a rather generous booty. It's ours, we own it.
And my girls are surrounded by other strong and independent women of all shapes and sizes. Some who work outside the home and some who don't. Some who work out and some who don't. Some who are outspoken and extroverted and some who are introverted and quiet. Some who have envy worthy bodies and some who are just not as concerned. But these are all women who bring something positive to the table. And women who I don't mind my girls looking up to. Women who I consider role models. Handpicked by me as potential influencers of my daughters.
And SuperHubby and I talk, especially with our two oldest, about what is acceptable in a flirting, jokey fun boy/girl way and what is not. Early this year TeenStar revealed to us several incidents of behavior from the boys in her grade that were disturbing to us. TeenStar and I spent a lot of time talking through what was okay and what wasn't. Fortunately my TeenStar is a tough cookie and she had the situation under control for herself and was more concerned for her friends. When I told SuperHubby about what was going on in the middle school his immediate reaction was to talk to our son, who also goes to the middle school. He wanted to make sure that he understood that the things he was seeing were not acceptable in any way.
I admit that mainstream culture may influence my children in some ways. We obviously don't live under a rock.
But in no way will mainstream culture or the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch or Disney be the predominant influencer of my children's self-esteem and body image.
Because that is my job.
How do you feel about the controversial events from this week?