To the Woman Who Wrote to the Salesperson at Dillard’s (here is the article if you haven’t heard yet):
Thank you! Your post has shown me what great parenting of a young lady looks like. My daughter is only 3, but I already fear for her self image as she gets older as we all know how even the most confident girls can get stuck in the trap of self hatred. I saw your post and thought, “Wow, her reaction was perfect. I hope I can be that for my daughter.” I’m not really commenting on the fact that the woman tried to sell spanx, that’s her job, but more that you showed what a level-headed and grounded parent you are to build your daughter (who is beautiful, by the way) up in such a healthy way rejecting the notion that a 17 year old would ever need shapewear.
You see, it’s very easy for me to build my daughter up, in my eyes she is as perfect as they come! And I think all of us would say that about our girls. But what does she hear me say about myself that will sink into her subconscious and make her learn to hate herself? It’s that thought that struck me hard this morning as I read your letter. I thank you for posting this so that all of us mothers can realize how powerful our words about ourselves can be to their already-fragile self-esteem.
To every young girl out there, listen up: you hate the way you look? Trust me on this, you will look back at pictures of yourself now in 10-15 years and think, “Wow, I was crazy for spending so much time hating myself and worrying what I looked like! I look great and wouldn’t mind looking like that again!” It’s all about perspective. In fact, I think it would do us all some good to stop thinking about ourselves so much entirely!
I’ve worked with youth at church for about 8 years now, and I’ve heard these beautiful young women completely tear themselves apart. Too fat, too skinny, boobs too big, boobs too small, butt too big, butt too small, scrawny arms, flabby arms, fat feet, bony feet, everything you can imagine. And every time I hear it, I just shake my head because, well, they look completely perfect to me. So I appreciate your reminder that we were created by God. A God with a plan for us, each of us individually created with a specific purpose. And each of us beautiful.
Mamas, this is where we come in! We have got to stop teaching our girls to pick themselves apart or fall into the trap of self-loathing. And here’s the thing, I’m not campaigning for a global initiative to stop this nonsense, no I’m looking at every mother of every little girl out there and saying it starts with us. They see us doing this to ourselves, and trust me I’m as guilty as they come! They hear us mumbling about how much we will have to work out after eating some mac and cheese, they see our look of disgust when we are checking to see if the jeans make our butts look big. This unhealthy mindset starts with us and I’m so glad this mom spoke up and said something to this sales clerk because it showed me that, ok maybe Hollywood sells us unhealthy ideals, but maybe I’m actually helping to promote that mindset in my child by the way I speak about myself.
So I’m going to start making a conscious effort from this moment on, that my daughter will not hear me speak disparagingly about myself. I will not fall into the trap of picking myself apart so that she too doesn’t look into the mirror only to decide what she hates about herself that day. I will make a conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle and lead by example in that respect, but to also be a good example of a balanced mindset. I will bake cookies with her without lamenting how they “are going straight my thighs” and will resist the urge to say, “ugh now I have to skip dinner” or something of the like after enjoying one with her. I will encourage her to find physical activity she enjoys and feels good at, not force her to exercise or get “in shape”. I will (try to) be a healthy influence on her.
As much as we would like to blame advertising companies for our daughters’ poor self-esteem, maybe we need to look in the mirror first. That is, if we can do it without picking ourselves apart the whole time…