“Honey, take that dress off, you look like a boy. Face it, you’re flat chested.”
She lowers her head and slowly walks back to the dressing room. She disrobes the silky red dress, runs her hand across the gown one more time, taking in every detail, replaying the surreal feeling when it draped her body...and slowly returns it to the hanger.
We tell our girls how pretty they are as we dress them in frilly dresses and lace socks. We dote on them when each hair has been straightened or curled to perfection. We take dozens of photos when we deem them beautiful enough. She’s called “cute, precious, and pretty” when relatives meet her for the first time... but she knows they’re just saying it to be polite.
The words that will stain her memory will be found in the moment she stands in front of the mirror and tries on clothes for a school dance, only to have her mother tell her that her body doesn’t look “right”. It will be in the moment she sits down for dinner when her father laughs and says, “do you really need to eat all of that?”. You see, these are the memories that will be pressed on her heart. The “off the cuff” remarks that were “just” jokes… these words will follow her.
The way she felt in those moments will reappear when she undresses in the locker room, compares her body to other girls or dresses to appease the opinions of others. Those feelings will leave her questioning if she’s desirable. Fear will begin to feed her insecurities as she consumes the idea that she is indeed, unattractive, defective, and ugly.
Eventually these insecure girls grow into insecure women. The women who are drop dead gorgeous yet completely oblivious of their own beauty. It appears in the woman who can’t seem to accept a compliment or refuses to leave the house without lashes and lipstick. She has been raised to believe that she is not pretty enough.
We tell girls and women that a “womanly” body is composed of large breasts, hips, and a big butt; yet criticize them for gaining weight. We ridicule them for doing the Kylie Jenner challenge as if society doesn’t glorify these features. We send so many minimizing messages to our girls when they fail to meet the current European standards of beauty... then act surprised when they begin to believe such thoughts. We can blame the media for pushing skinny models with perfect butts, breasts, legs, and lips... but we have to accept our role and the influence we have on our girls.
Now that we can recognize our power, how do we use our influence to RedefineEnough for our young girls?