Recently wonder woman and I were out for a walk to our local park. While walking the path and approaching our friends we were passed by a pack of young girls on scooters. These girls ranging from age 7-9 years old were going very fast by us when one of them said "let's go faster and work off a little weight before school starts so we can get a boyfriend" to which the rest replied rather enthusiastically "yeah!".
This line literally stopped me in my tracks. I gasped and felt my heart break, all at once.
As a mother to a young girl, this shook me to my core. My initial instinct was to broadcast this statement on Facebook to let other mothers I know hear this gut wrenching news. Not to upset them, but to make them aware. So I did that.
Next, I was stricken with regret. I wish I had stopped them and delivered some perfect speech about how self-worth is true beauty and that boys should only be so lucky as to call them their girlfriends one day. Or better yet, that having a solid group of girl friends matters a hell of a lot more than a boyfriend. But, that ship had sailed.
After that stage passed, I was just sad. Plain old sad.
What has happened in their lives and in our society to cause a group of already tiny young girls to worry about weight and dating?
How are we failing the next generation in such a way that allows for deeply ingrained misogyny and inferiority to men start so young?
I know there can't be any one person or thing to blame for this mentality. I know that there is a multitude of factors that allowed this to take place and it really got me thinking. There are factors both in and out of my control playing a role here, so I need to get clear about what I can do to prevent a sentence like this from ever coming out of my daughter's mouth.
Undoubtedly role modelling is a big one.
To this notion I ask all my readers to do their absolute best to not only refrain from body shaming themselves or others, but to refrain from putting any type of worth on physical appearances at all. Social media and society overall do enough of that.
This goes beyond "I look fat" or "I need to go on a diet". The obvious lines we should all prevent from coming out of our mouths.
This includes "that girl looks really weird" and "why would she wear that" type of judgements. This is about being conscious of everything you say about yourself, your family and anyone else you come across.
To go above and beyond, why not try saying positive affirmations in the mirror with your children, boys and girls. Let's not only model self-love and appreciation but practice it, daily, so it may become a part of our routine and deeper understanding of ourselves. Try looking in the mirror and saying "I love myself" with a smile or "I am a kind and loving person".
Let's place worth on who we are as people and demonstrate that being loved by ourselves is the best love out there to give and receive.
These are the things within our control. These are the actions and choices we can make every single day to play a more positive role in our young children's self-love and worth.
I know that when my daughter goes to school next year that she will no longer be influenced predominantly by my husband and I but by our community overall. All I can do, is make sure that she always feels like she can be exactly who she wants to be, proudly while loving herself loudly. I will continue to model to my daughter that self-love starts with yourself and that at the end of the day, all you need to feel loved and happy is to give love and be happy.
I hope this post is as eye opening to you as this experience today was for me.
It's a big job fighting against the skewed views of society. Especially in a world where likes, ratings and followers directly dictate our social status. All we can do, as mothers and fathers to young children, is lay the foundation, model a healthy and compassionate lifestyle and be there to support the questions and heartaches ahead to come.