This past weekend, we had a heartbreaking sneak peak of what our future with daughters is going to look like.
On Friday after we got home, Audrey went to her room. After being in there for a while, Brian went back to see what was up. He found her sulking and stomping around, and after some prompting, she finally told him why she was upset. She said, “I look like a boy in everything, and I am just not pretty enough!” He came out and told me, and of course I promptly ran back there to comfort her more. I found her crying silently on her bed.
After hearing this whole thing, our hearts shattered into a million pieces. It is way, way too early for societal influences to be rearing their ugly heads! We try to build the girls up as much as possible at home (“you are smart, you are funny, you are sweet, and yes, you are so pretty!”) so it makes me sad that she is doubting these things already. If this is what is happening now, what is kindergarten (and beyond!) going to look like? I have been trying to live in denial about what she will be exposed to in kindergarten, but I thought I had at least until then before this surfaced.
I hate blaming society as a whole right off that bat, and usually try to look inwardly at what’s going on in our home before I conclude that our girls’ actions/feelings are due to an outside influence. However, since the beginning, one of the things we aimed to do as parents of girls was never to compliment them only on being pretty – we wanted the focus to be on more than looks because they are more than their looks. That isn’t to say that we don’t tell them how adorable and beautiful they are (because THEY ARE) but we never try to make that the primary compliment. I don’t think these feelings of hers originated from inside our house (and would be devastated if I found out they did!)
How do you even deal with these things at such a young age? Limit the princess-culture exposure? Comfort them/talk to them in the moment and then hope it’s a random occurrence that doesn’t happen again anytime soon? Try to go back a little later and have a meaningful conversation about it? Nothing seems sufficient enough. My first instinct with everything is to talk it to death, but I know I need to put that aside and not harp on it so that she doesn’t get a complex. Overreaction is never the right solution, and I know this, but wow. It is so hard NOT to overreact in this situation!