Thursday, March 31, 2011

Messages about being a woman

I really work hard to send my daughter positive messages about being a healthy and satisfied-with-oneself woman.

I eat well with occasional treats allowed (and no saying, "I was bad. I had some cake.")
I exercise as much as I can given that two little boys in the house wake me up through the night on an all too regular basis.  
I don't wear makeup at all (thereby sending the message "I am fine as is").
I don't dress skimpy or provocatively.  (A nursing bra flap hanging out does not count.)
I wear my hair short because it looks good on me (thereby sending a message that women can still be feminine without long hair).  

And I try to tell myself that it is what she sees me do that is most important.

But I sometimes worry what message I am unintentionally sending when I get my subscriptions to Allure and US Weekly magazine, which are chock full of women all gussied up in expensive clothes, Spanxed to death, with at least 2 layers of makeup on.  They look fantastic, but they aren't real.  Because on top of all the primping and sucking in, they are Photoshopped to boot.  

And then there was the time I wanted to purchase new underwear when N and I were at the mall, and so I went to Victoria's Secret.  I just wanted some panties that weren't all stretched out from pregnancy, but since I haven't stepped into a VS in years (since before my first pregnancy in 2003) I forgot how sexy everything is.  How luscious the models are with their pictures lining the store walls.  It made me feel more than a little weird with my 7-year-old standing there taking it all in.

Of course, truth be told, I feel weird in a VS by myself.  I'm pushing 40 but I still don't feel like I'm grown-up enough to be there.

I'm not losing any sleep over this, but I do wonder how N will perceive her body and her femininity as time goes by.


Kelsey said...

I think about this kind of thing a lot. I guess I wouldn't stress too much about the magazines - we can't control all the cultural influences, you know? We can limit some of it but never get rid of it entirely.

I think the MOST important thing is to be careful with the language you use and the example you set and how you address N's concerns as she gets older. And I think the fact that you already think about it means you are off to a good start.

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

I worry about this too. I do wear make-up and, when I go dancing, I do wear skimpy clothes, but I skip the magazines, so maybe we balance each other out. :)

It is so hard to know how to talk to young girls about all this. They get the message EVERYWHERE that what's impt about them is how they look and what kind of boy they can attract--from Princess culture to Barbies to TV. Ugh. But I do think modeling comfort with ourselves as we are and emphasizing the value of our girls' non-physical attributes can be so helpful, and talking about these issues early on is so important.