It made my heart cry out and I just had to hug her and assure her that her hair is gorgeous and perhaps those little girls just never knew anyone who had hair that wasn't silky straight like theirs so that's why they didn't know what to say but that. It took a while, but she now knows that everyone is different, and everyone is special and unique.
I love her curly hair by the way. It's got style. It's got character. It makes her stand out. My parents always told me that you won't get far if you simply follow the crowd. To be seen, you have to be different. Her hair, plus her super level of friendliness, certainly does make her stand out.
And so it has started. The whole "needing to conform in order to be like everyone else" thing. Quick reminder: she is 4 years old. Her classmates are also 4 years old. Why in the world are they not running free at the playgrounds with the wind in their hair and getting sweaty and sticky and climbing everywhere? Why are they talking about hair?! What next? Pedicures?
According to a study by SingHealth in 2007, 84% of Singaporean teenage girls want to change the way they look. In 9 years, Poppy will be a (insert heart palpitation here) teenager. There will be talk of unwanted hair, branded clothes and if she wears glasses, we might find her occasionally without them, just because "they make me look funny". Particularly if there are boys around. Oh goodness. (insert another heart palpitation here) Boys.
How do we, as mums, teach our daughters that they are beautiful, no matter what people say or think? How do we teach them that beauty is more than just skin deep? How do we teach them to love themselves? How do we boost their self-esteem?
The same study shares that 74% of Singaporean teenage girls feel there is a need to start talking to girls earlier in their lives about what real beauty is and that girls are most influences by those around them, especially their female friends and mothers.
We've always told Poppy how much we love her, and always try to speak positively. Without even knowing it, we talk alot about the 'beauty' factor. Even when she was a baby, we would say things like "Who's this gorgeous baby? It's you!" and that would get squeals of laughter from her. We do the over excited dramatic "Wow you look beauuuuutiful!" whenever she puts on a new outfit from her dress up box, and when she does her ballerina routine, we clap and cheer with gusto.
I just love seeing her shy face when she walks out of the room, not knowing what kind of reaction to expect from us but secretly hoping for it to be a big jaw-dropping one because she's so excited about her outfit - and yes, I can tell all that just by looking at her. I'm her mother, you see
Sometimes she says really surprising things like "Mama, if we go to the moon, we can't drink water from a cup because there isn't any gravity to keep the water in the cup and it will spill all over", and we ask in mock shock, "How come you're so clever!". She loves it. She just smiles and say "Because you teach me!"
Sometimes she surprises me with things like "That's a nice necklace, Mama" or "I like your dress, Mama". I suppose she does listen when I say these things to her after all. Perhaps that has somehow made it easier for her to accept my whole explanation of how people are different thing, but I can only hope that as she grows, she will continue to love herself and be comfortable in her own skin.
One day, on the bus, she was just gazing out the window andquietly said to me, "Mama, I am beautiful". I just had to hug her and agree with "Yes, baby, you are." I couldn't agree more. I hope I'm doing it right.
Poppy and I recently started on "The Poppy Book". It was meant to be a keepsake for her, with pages of her friends and family, and what she likes at this age, but inspired by Dove®'s Campaign for Real Beauty, I think we will make it a point to include things like what makes her special.
What motivates me to do this? It's simple. I have a beautiful little girl; she's gorgeous on the outside, and has a wonderful personality and good heart. And I need her to know that, no matter what anyone says.
Got a 8-14 year old girl at home? Check out Dove®'s Proposed Activities!
|I start early with this little one too. Sinead O'Connor hairstyle or not, she's gorgeous to me, and I make sure she knows it|
PS this post isn't sponsored by Dove; I just am a big fan of that campaign.