Erica Ehm's great post "Why I Felt Guilty Watching This Beautiful Video" immediately caught my eye. And let me say this—I LOVED the video. In a world where our girls are bombarded by photoshopped images and are told to aspire to a thigh gap, it's important that we counter that messaging. We need to be the biggest influence in our children's lives, and that influence starts with accepting what we see when we look in the mirror.
Fortunately, the pendulum is starting to swing and more people are exposing the extent to which the images we see are manipulated. Brands are slowly shifting their messaging to encourage women to embrace that they are beautiful, even if they aren't a size zero, don't have a one-inch thigh gap, or can't produce a bikini bridge when lying down. (Sigh, or maybe not.)
So, believe me when I say that I'm all for the shift in messaging, and I'm all in for a movement towards health and acceptance, but here's my radical idea: why don't we stop talking about beauty altogether?
My daughter is three years old. She has a head full of ringlets and everyone says the same thing when they see her—"you're so beautiful," or "your hair is so pretty." Complete and total strangers say this to her every time we check out at a store or sit down at a restaurant to eat. (I won't even start on how this probably makes my son feel, as if he's invisible.)
My daughter is physically beautiful, but what makes her amazing is so much more than her hair and how she looks. She is a fiercely independent, opinionated, and strong-willed preschooler. (While this often frustrates us to no end, my husband and I remind ourselves that these traits will serve her well as she gets older.)
So, why does everyone focus on what she looks like? Why are we focused on what we look like?
The world is desperate to interest more women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), so why don't we show our girls about how fun and interesting those areas can be?
Why don't we talk to our children about how fulfilling it can be to find your creative outlet and make something that you think is beautiful—whether it's a piece of art, a photograph, or a story?
Why don't we talk about how important it is to be kind?
Why don't we talk about something other than how everyone looks?
I'm not so naive as to think that we can completely stop encouraging our children about how they look. Of course, I will still let my daughter know that she is beautiful. I can, however, add more important topics to the discussion.
I'm going to change the conversation at my house. Will you join me?
Photo by John Morgan via Flickr.