Ever since Emma turned 7, I have found myself becoming more and more irritated with the way things are portrayed to her in public. For example, when I go to the store to buy clothes for her....the store has sizes broken down into 3 sections....obviously the first being baby sizes, then the next is size 2-6, and finally the group Emma is in now, size 7-14. I am annoyed with this because in my opinion there is not a 7 year old out there that should be wearing the same style clothing as a 14 year old. There is a HUGE difference in the mindset of a 7 year old compared to that of a 14 year old!
So, I ask myself....why does the store do this? Why do clothing manufacturers make clothing in this manner? Am I the only parent out there that feels like this is something wrong or weird?
I walk around in public places and I see girls wearing clothes that cover about as much of their body as a pair of underwear and a bra would....girls that couldn't possibly be any older than 12. I look at them and I feel this uneasy fear in the pit of my stomach. I see them and I know that my own daughter is just a few years away from that age. It fills me with such a mixed sense of emotions that I have trouble even making sense of them sometimes.
On the one hand, I am probably the most liberal person you will ever meet when it comes to individuality and expression. I would never feel that it could be my place to judge someone based on their appearance. On the other hand, I look at my daughter and I can honestly say that I would never want her to feel that she had to dress that way to impress someone...a boy...her friends...anyone. I want her to not be judged on her appearance and how much skin she shows. I don't want her to be judged at all actually. I want her personality, her intelligence, her sense of humour to shine through and win people's hearts just as she has won mine. It kills me to see teen stars on tv, or in music, or movies, and magazines....being portrayed as a sexualized icon to my daughter and so many other little girls in the world. It kills me that I don't see more of a balance...for every one half dressed celebrity on the cover with her finger nail provacatively perched on the bottom lip of her open mouth......I wish there was a fully clothed celebrity holding a book...or helping a small child in need...or even involved in a fundraiser for a charity. I wish it was more balanced. I wish that these images weren't thrust at my daughter and her friends every time they leave the house. I just want to gather them all up and sit them down and tell them how important they are...how special they are for just being themselves...how they will only be 8 once...they will never again have another October 11, 2012, so they need to enjoy it being a kid....being 8 years old and playing with their toys...singing silly songs, dancing, doing cartwheels...just being a little girl! I wish I could tell them that and make it sink in before they go off into the world again to be bombarded with our over-sexualized society.
I know what you are thinking, there is no way you could change things Amy....this is the way the world is now...it's not 1950 anymore...suck it up and just accept it. I know all of this...and I wouldn't expect it to be like it was in 1950. I love the fact that there are powerful women out there...women who fight for equal rights...women who stand up and speak their mind...women who work twice as hard as a man and stand as a shining beacon of hope for our future...women who are nurturing and caring and giving of themselves...women who have ideas, act on them, work hard, and make an impact on the world we now live in.
Please know that I am not blaming society for my woes. I am not blaming music or tv or movies. I am not blaming Hollywood. I am not blaming anyone. I am simply stating that this is something that disturbs me. I know it ultimately falls on my shoulders to teach my daughter how to have self worth...how to have confidence in her beauty (inner as well as outer)...how to shine amidst a muddied mess of chaos out there...how to revel in her intelligence and share her humour with the world. I know that I must teach her these things and make her believe them deep down in her heart...believe that she is worthwile just being who she is. I accept the job and I will do my best to make her see these things and believe them about herself before I send her off to conquer the world on her own.
I think this means so much to me because as a kid I was not confident in myself...in fact I thought I was ugly. I hated my hair, my freckles, my shyness. I hated my teeth and how my eyes squinted when I smiled. I hated how all of the boys never saw me the same way as they saw some of my friends. I hated how I suffered in silence. I hated how I thought I was stupid in math. I hated how I felt like I was a nerd and not good enough or pretty enough or funny enough or popular enough or simply liked enough. Yes, I had a lot of friends...I had fun...I went to sleepovers and birthday parties and playdates...I did all of these things...but I never felt good enough.
I don't want Emma to feel that way about herself. I want her to BELIEVE In herself and KNOW that she is good enough. Without diabetes in the mix, this challenge would be extremely difficult. Since diabetes is also along for the ride, I will have just one extra hurdle to get over...one extra thing to make sure doesn't affect her and make her feel different...out of place...not good enough. I hope that I can do this. I hope that I can instill these beliefs in her. Once again, I hope that I am good enough.
What a bizarre thing to realize that I still have those same thoughts that ran through my head 25 years ago. I guess there are some demons that never leave us.