It’s early autumn. My daughter and I are in a small dance wear shop, looking for a new gymnastics outfit for her. We’ve picked out a couple of outfits and Lizzie is in the change room trying them on as I wander the racks reminiscing about the dance recitals of my youth. I’m clear across the store when I hear singing from the change room: “Pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel like you’re less than, less than perfect.” It’s my daughter, singing loudly and with abandon, repeating the same verse over and over. I smile and make a mental note to mark this in the highlight reel of Lizzie’s childhood.
Lizzie is eight. She is sparkly, energetic, athletic, loving, loyal, and unabashedly confident in her body. She does not question her looks, her physicality, the shape of her legs, the line of her hips, the slope of her nose. She has no idea that what she’s singing is more than perfect.
Recently there was an ill-advised campaign by Victoria’s Secret that used the words, “the perfect body,” over an image of a group of very slim, well-endowed, supermodel-types. All of the models looked similar, and were in no way a cross-section of the average woman. The back-lash that ensued was fierce, and the website Dear Kate (also a retailer of undergarments) responded beautifully with the same slogan over a picture of real women of all shapes and sizes. After a petition to change the slogan gained momentum, Victoria’s Secret altered the wording to: A Body For Everybody. But they didn’t change the image of the models underneath.
I know Lizzie will continue to be bombarded with these types of images in the media as she grows older. We already discuss the varied messages that girls (and women) are receiving in magazines and on television. We talk about how important it is to challenge the narrow standard of beauty and perceived perfection in many of the images we see, and this will be an ongoing conversation. But for now, she is comfortable in her body and in who she is, and I wish that I could press pause on this stage of her life.
Hearing her sing Perfect by Pink sums up exactly what I will continue to say to her: “Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel you are less than, less than perfect.” I want her to know (and always feel) that she is, indeed, perfect. Just perfect.
There are a lot of milestones in motherhood, but one thing I wasn't prepared for was the impact of the little things. I've learned a lot from my kids, but here are two of the biggest lessons they've taught me. And if you're like me, you've been inundated with lots of bad parenting advice. Here are the four best pieces of parenting advice ever.