Concerned about beauty

In the current edition of Clutch, there was an article about beauty as it related to black women. The author shares an experience in a class she taught at an all-female college and her own ideas of beauty based on her experiences. It’s an interesting article from woman’s perspective.

I typed a long post about my occasional hang-ups and my daughter, but I realized this isn’t about me. This topic is about every woman who looks in the mirror and sees an imperfection. To who or what are we comparing ourselves? What is it that we want to be? Who do we want to copy? And in doing all of this, what are we teaching our girls about themselves and our boys about looking at girls?

I struggle with this a lot. I’m sure like a lot of women, there are days I look in the mirror and wonder why I would think anything needs improvement and others when I can only focus on the things I want to improve (one of these days I’ll be one with the stretch marks and baby pouch). When I have nothing but time, I wonder where I get my ideas of beauty and why I let features on someone else (and not me) that I had no opinion about become part of what I find beautiful because someone else brought it to my attention. And I also wonder… what am I teaching my daughter and son based on what I do, not what I say?

It’s amazing how early kids become aware of body issues these days. With TV, the Internet and all kinds of other stimuli that mold our kids’ thinking, it’s hard to fight what kids hear or learn around their peers, especially when their peers are of other ethnic backgrounds. My son mentioned something about being fat (at 100 pounds last year) and my daughter cried because some kids made comments about her smile. Both of these situations caught me from the left because I thought I instilled in them that they were handsome and beautiful no matter what other people say. Did they pick up on me bemoaning some small feature about myself or does everyone and everything else outside of their parents have a greater influence on how they see themselves at these stages in their lives? I can only reinforce their own inner and outer beauty and hope that somewhere in the deep recesses of their child minds that Mom’s words sink and settle.

I don’t have any answers. I believe that like all kids and teenagers, they will go through these phases as part of their development. What I do hope is that they come through it with a level of self-love and respect that sustains them throughout their lives and allows them to look past stereotypes to find inner and outer beauty in others.

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