There’s been a raft of blog posts lately about bringing up girls (and boys) in an overtly sexualised society where the “porn pop star” reigns supreme. I am totally on board with all these concerns – which is why I don’t let my kids watch music videos or sexualised shows like “Big Bang Theory” or “How I Met Your Mother”. It’s why I closely monitor what’s on the radio when my kids are in the car and why they will not have a Facebook account until they’re at least 13 – and then both myself and Souljourneyboy will be their Facebook friends/stalkers 🙂
However I read one such post recently and it kind of bugged me. This mother was saying she would never take her daughter shopping for a “girly day” or ever comment on what she wears because it sends the wrong message.
I understood where she was coming from, but I found that I just couldn’t agree. I wondered if it was because I actually like shopping and I have many great memories of going shopping with my Mum when I was young where we just had the best time. Then I worried it was because I am actually addicted to consumerism and am betraying the feminist sisterhood with my illicit love for fun jewellery and pretty scarves.
But today, I realised what it was that I couldn’t agree with. This moment of clarity came about because Souljourneyboy has taken Bookworm and Picasso away on a CEBS camp for the weekend and Little Miss and I are getting to spend lots of time together. We have both been very excited by the idea of “just the girls” for a few weeks now, and so today after the boys had left early, we went out for breakfast and then hit the shops for a few things we need before our trip to Hamilton Island. We gathered up some things to try on and headed for the change rooms, where we tried on – swimming costumes. Yes, the most hateful of all the shopping expeditions for women, particularly after you’ve had multiple children and are staring at the downhill run to your 40th birthday.
But right there in front of those dreadfully large multiple mirrors, I realised why this was actually a really important moment for us. Because I tried on swimmers in front of my daughter, and I didn’t mention my stretch marks or my cellulite. We talked about spots and stripes and what colours we liked. She didn’t catch me staring mournfully at my once-trim waist or wondering aloud if one style made me look fatter than another. I didn’t mention the fact that I’d just eaten pancakes and was possibly now regretting the calorie overload. We decided we liked pink and black, and we had fun looking forward to our holiday and all the swimming and snorkelling we will do in our snazzy new costumes. And I told her she was beautiful.
So, that’s why I will take my daughter shopping. Because I want her to know that she doesn’t need to be worried about what she sees in the mirror. As the most significant female role model in her life, I want to set a benchmark for her that says bodies aren’t perfect and that it doesn’t matter. I want her to spend more time thinking about the fun she will have in her clothes than the clothes themselves. And I want her to know she’s beautiful, because I don’t want a 17-year-old boy to be the first person to ever tell her that. But I want her to know that it’s just not the most important thing. The fact is that our daughters will go shopping, and watch Video Hits and have Facebook accounts eventually. I hope to be on this journey with my Little Miss as she grows, and help her make smart choices that lead to her becoming a wonderful woman.