In Bella's post Who's ready to stop the insanity?, Bella encourages us to join forces and together redefine what comprises beauty. She writes:
I was the first one to respond I was in. Stopping the insanity has long been one of the goals of this blog and my Making Women Count project. One of my biggest life regrets is spending too much time and mental energy in my teens and twenties trying to attain society’s ideal of “pretty.”Let us laugh, giggle, and support each other in our grief, pain, and triumphs.
Let us go back to the time when being best friends meant sharing secrets, helping one another, and splitting a stick of gum.
Let us encourage each other so that we can all come to believe we are beautiful; that we are worthy.
The only way we can stop the insanity is by coming together to say, enough.
Let us demonstrate that the sisterhood still exists and it’s on a mission; a mission to stop the insanity.
What say you, ladies?
Are you in?
For all of you, who are joining forces with Bella and me, be advised we have our work cut out for us. My 10-year old niece is a gifted athlete, but receives many more messages from family, her peers and the media that she should work on being more “girlie” rather than on her soccer game or pitching arm. At a recent Father-Daughter dance at her school, some of her fourth grade classmates showed up in makeup and with their hair professionally styled. These are nine and ten year olds.
Then there is the latest addition to our family. A baby girl born on Valentine’s Day:
Just days old and there have already been comments about her appearance. Here is a picture of the baby's parents and brothers:
Have you spotted the baby's flaw?
You got it.
The baby's hair is not blonde.
I spend many family get-togethers kicking this particular family member under the table or jabbing her with my elbow while she is talking to the ten-year old. I don't want today's girls growing up believing the message society continues to force upon girls: we need to be "pretty." Instead why can't we instill the message from my favorite line of Kattie Makkai's poem:
“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely 'pretty'.”
What can we do to stop the insanity? How can we change the conversation?
Lisa Bloom in How to talk to little girls provides an excellent example of how to talk to little girls. Instead of telling a little girl she had met how gorgeous she was and asking her to model her pretty dress, she asked her about her favorite book. What a novel idea; asking her about her mind. Bloom goes on to say:
Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she's reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You're just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.Be cognizant of opportunities to change the conversation:
Recently ahead of me in the checkout-line at the grocery store, an eleven-year old girl and her mother were admiring the models on magazine covers. The girl was pointing at them talking about how pretty and skinny they were. I butted in on their conversation and said, "They don't really look like that you know. Those photos are photo shopped." Her mother took my cue and agreed with me. She began telling her daughter how perfect she was and that she didn't need to wear makeup.
Are you ready to change the conversation and to stop the insanity? If so head over to Bella's blog and let her know you too are in.
Here are links from a few fellow bloggers who've committed to changing the conversation:
Virginia Sole Smith's Brave Books for Girls (not Princesses) provides a list of her favorite books from childhood featuring brave (non-princess-y) girls as the main characters and none of them never so much as mentions their weight.
Elizabeth at Yo Mama praises Ashley Judd for slapping media in the face for speculation over her 'puffy' face appearance in Making Ashley Judd's Moment Last.
Lori at The Ole Master Plan writes about weight and her own experience with prednisone in Worth Doesn't Equal a Size 4.
If you have written a blog post or know of one that belongs on the above list, let me know I will be happy to add it. Let's work together and say enough.