I try and reinforce to Princess every day that she is beautiful, inside and out. Sometimes probably a little too much, I do worry that she may become a little arrogant with it, but I feel it's important that she doesn't worry about how she looks. I know she's only 3, but she has already taken a massive interest in clothes, make up and 'looking pretty'.
She enjoys watching me put my make up on so much that I've had to buy her a pretend make up set just so she can pretend to do her own. The one thing that I have tried to portray to her though, is that make up isn't needed just to make you pretty. She doesn't understand that I wear foundation to cover my blotchy skin, or eyeliner and mascara so my eyes look that little bit nicer. She thinks I wear make up because I like to do it, to her it's all just a game.
But I know that the older she gets, the more she may rely on the material things such as make-up and hair straighteners, the same way I do. How can I expect her to believe me when I tell her she is beautiful without all these things, when I don't believe them in myself?
Just the other day I was straightening my hair - I don't actually do this for vain reasons, my hair is so wild and thick that it actually needs straightening just to control it - when she asked me to straighten hers. Now as I have posted before, Princess has gorgeous curly hair. As she's got older, the curls have dropped a bit, but it is still beautiful and wavy. I said no at first.. I didn't think it was particularly right to straighten a toddlers hair. But when she said she wanted long hair like Rapunzel, I relented. I think most young girls idolize Disney Princesses, and I didn't see much harm in her hair being a little different. She didn't do it to look pretty, she just wanted her hair long.
She also likes dressing up as a Princess, which I'm pretty sure most girls her age do. Will she be disappointed when she grows up to learn that these Princesses are only real in fairytales and she will never actually get to live in a castle wearing beautiful gowns? I know I was. Will she think she is less beautiful than they are? I did.
It is so important to us as parents that we portray the right image to our children. We don't want them growing up with body issues or having a belief that they aren't beautiful. I think we can tell our children over and over again how stunning they are, but it's more important to show them. We need to show our children that we love ourselves so that they in turn can learn to love themselves too. Self worth isn't something that comes naturally to a lot of people, it can take years to feel happy in your own skin, but I think we can teach our children that what is on the inside that matters.
I hope Princess grows up with a healthy respect for herself. In my eyes she is the most beautiful creature that ever existed, but I know she won't think of herself in the same way. The media puts so much pressure on women to look and act a certain way, but if I show her that it's okay to be a little different yet still be happy, surely that's the most important thing?
As parents,we can't change the way the media works and we can't change the way in which they choose how to portray women. But what we can do is invest in our children. Of course they are beautiful, they are our future. We need to show them that beauty is more than just what we see in the media and that the people to look up to aren't the people on magazine covers or on TV, but it is the people that are truly happy to be themselves. In real life, it doesn't matter if you wear make up or not, if your hair is long or short or if you're thin or fat, what matters is how you carry yourself. How you interact with the people around you.
And it doesn't just stop at women. There is a lot of pressure on men to not be too skinny, too fat, too muscly, too bald. Does it all really matter?
It sounds corny, but I want Princess to learn that beauty comes from within and not from the way you look.
I hope I can teach her that.