"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Little Girls in Pretty Dresses

A couple of weeks ago, during the Spilled Milk debacle, I got a curious comment that said something to the effect of, “I'm just wondering why you have such an aversion to anger, which is a normal human emotion?” The comment quite honestly left me a little confused, because I didn't understand how my desire to stay calm during what was a typical 3 year old exploration equated to having an aversion to the emotion in general. As I said at the time, I do get mad occasionally (because I'm human), but I just feel that it has to be something really worthy of an emotion as strong as anger.

Well let me be perfectly and painstakingly clear when I say: Today, I am angry.

Interestingly, the internet – which is also filled with light and inspiration to be sure – supplied me with more than a few nuggets of frustration today. This led me to do some serious head shaking. This got my feathers all kinds of ruffled. But this, this made me flat out mad.

In what kind of world is injecting your 8 year old child's face with a toxin, in a quest for perfection, okay? Or subjecting her to painful body waxes to ward off unwanted, and inevitable, hair growth in puberty? Or saying that you'd “rather she be perfect and have a little frozen face?” In what kind of reality should an 8 year old ever have to feel that she needs to check nightly for wrinkles, or that it takes these kinds of procedures for her to “look way better...beautiful...pretty....all those kinds of nice words?” In what kind of society should a child this age even be aware of the existence of a rhinoplasty or a breast augmentation, let alone desire to have either one?

My heart is broken for this girl. This beautiful little girl whose innocence is lost. This girl who will never measure up, who will spend her whole life lost in chasing the unattainable. This girl who is being taught by the person that she is supposed to trust the most that she is not good enough. This girl without a mother holding her sticky hand, playing with her tangled hair, telling her, “You are perfect, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.”

I'm angry. I am. What in the world is this beauty pageant, Toddlers In Tiaras, bikini-waxing, hair bleaching culture doing to these little girls? Spray tans, eyebrow threading, false eyelashes, hair extensions, hair straighteners, hair curlers, face makeup, body makeup, push up bras! And now Botox? POISON, painfully injected into their faces? These are little girls. Girls who should be running through the playground, playing tag with their friends, and building forts in their backyard.... not worrying about being prettier, or sexier, or more of a superstar than their preschool counterpart standing next to them.

Please, please, can we let our children be children? But more than that, can we please let them know that they are unconditionally loved? That they are beautifully, and uniquely, and perfectly created exactly as they are? No matter what size they are, or how tall or short, or how straight or how curly. Whether they have freckles, or birthmarks, or thick eyebrows, or no eyebrows. Whether they walk differently, or talk differently, or think differently. Is it too much to ask that we recognize and appreciate the inherent beauty in all children when they are allowed to be children ... not when they're falsely plucked, polished, and pressured into being somebody else's distorted version of perfect?

I want to know when someone's going to stand up and say, “Enough.” I want to know when someone is going to be the voice of reason, and compassion, and what's right. These girls are being damaged and abused. Not just in ways we can see right now, but in ways we can only imagine for the rest of their lives.

They are beautiful the way they are.

And Moms? You're beautiful the way you are too. But you're adults. If you want bigger breasts, or a smaller nose, or a smoother face, it's your body. Have at it.

But I beg you, please, leave your little girls alone.

Be the mom.
Be the one who protects her.
Be the one person in her life she can count on for unconditional love, acceptance, and devotion.

Be the person you want her to see reflected in your eyes every time she looks at you.... someone who is beautiful not because of what she does or does not look like, but because of who she is.

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