Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's A Girl Thing...Unfortunately

Of all the fun things about being a girl, and there are many, one of the most amusing is everything having to do with fashion. Especially when other people are wearing the clothes and you get to be the scathing critic. Come on, how many of us watch the Oscars just to see what the stars are wearing? And while we all love to admire those who look beautiful and perfectly put together, it's way more fun when someone shows up looking ridiculous. There are entire magazines and web sites, not to mention cackling Joan Rivers and her talented daughter, to this very subject. It's definitely a girl thing, and a fun one at that.

So the other night when I first caught my 6 year old daughter and my sister leafing through the pages of In Style, deciding who looked pretty and who didn't, I thought it was a very cute, very sweet bonding moment between a little girl and her aunt. I was amused to see Julia, who has recently become very opinionated about her own wardrobe, have smart comments to make on the pictures in the magazine, as well. I always wanted a girly girl and I've definitely got one, at least as far as clothes go.

An instant later, though, I was hit with the realization that this is how young girls start being exposed to the very media images that we know are behind the rise in eating disorders, poor body image, and low self-esteem that many young girls (and girls at an increasingly younger age) are experiencing. I've watched enough Dr. Phil to know that these are not things to be taken lightly. Unfortunatley, I've got my own baggage as far as body image and self-esteem go, and so it is importnat to me to set a healthy example for Julia. At the very least, I want her never to feel inferior because of her size or what she looks like. Luckily, that hasn't been an issue for her and I hope it never becomes one. What's more, it is also vital to me to raise children who can see beyond the superficiality they are surrounded by (do kids really need to be wearing $100 jeans and having plastic surgery before they graduate high school? In my little corner of the world, apparently they do) and judge people by their personalitlies and actions, not by their clothes.

So, what to do? Do I put an end to Julia and her aunt having a great time looking at the cool clothes in order to teach Julia a lesson? This time, I decided not to. With a few veiled comments to Tannaz, we quickly got on the same page. The conversation was focused more on the clothes than the people wearing them, which I think is appropriate. And the opinions of this particular precinct of the Fashion Police were overwhelmingly more positive than nasty. Good and good. Still, this is something I will continue to quietly keep my eye on because I'd hate for Julia to internalize the notion that she has to look like one of the airbrushed models in the magazine. So when we watch Dancing With The Stars I may point out that the dancers are hard workers and athletic, in addition to noticing how silly the headdresses always look.

Is it just me or did being 6 used to be a lot more simple?


tannaz said...

You know, I was trying to make a point, as we went through the magazine, of pointing out some of the models/actresses/whatever that looked a little more *interesting*, as opposed to the objective idea of pretty -- say, Eva Mendes, as opposed to Charlize Theron. It's hard to do in a fashion magazine -- everyone is size 2 and perfectly coiffed and done up. But I was excited when Julia chose Sandra Oh as one of her favorites -- definitely not a traditional beauty, but certainly someone whose face shows a lot of personality and spunk. So... maybe she's getting the message after all.

skrpndiva said...

It's sad that we have to teach our kids things that just kind of evolved for us as children, especially female. I always teach my kids that looks are not important because everyone has the same thing in common, a heart and blood pumping through the body and that's what matters most of all!

Tracie said...

Certainly I don't remember 6 being all that complicated! Heck I barely remember being 6 at all! LOL.

My oldest son has this thing lately about 'junk food' and basically refuses to eat it, I have been trying to tell him as long as it's once in awhile and in moderation, that would be fine.... and that would be because of HEALTH as opposed to what it can essentially turn you into (fat blob for instance). I like Jacquie's outlook as well...KUDOS!