A new challenge has begun: How do I teach my daughter about real beauty?
My five-year-old is participating in Girl Scouts this year. Because we homeschool, I wanted her to meet other girls and make friends, as well as developing good character. I remember my days in Girl Scouts as having a significant impact in my own life. For me, it was one of the few places I could go with the expectation that I wouldn’t be bullied and that I could be myself. I was able to experience some pretty amazing things that I otherwise would not have.
Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the way my own daughter’s experience is shaping up. Now, don’t misunderstand me. At this age, it’s mostly about learning to be a good friend, respect others, and have some fun. She is definitely getting some of that, so it isn’t all negative. It’s the extra stuff that concerns me. For example, next month, her troop is having a “make-up party.” No, they aren’t making up for things some girls missed at previous meetings.
Why, you might ask, are FIVE-YEAR-OLDS learning how to apply make-up? Good question; I’ve been asking that myself. Sure, her troop leader tried to sell me on it by saying it’s really about “self-care” and “respecting our bodies with good hygiene.” In reality, a make-up sales representative is coming to show these little girls how to wash their faces with product, smear themselves with facial cream, and put on make-up. Because you’re never too young to look your best, of course.
We live in a society where women are constantly told that the way to be happy is to be pretty and the way to be pretty is to alter the natural state of our faces and bodies. We put things on our skin, we obsess over food, we totter around in high heels. At an extreme, we starve ourselves and subject ourselves to elective surgery. We do all this in pursuit of looking “perfect” or achieving “perfect” health.
So I took a stand. I told my daughter’s troop leader that we would not be participating. I don’t want my daughter to grow up believing that she has to change herself to fit someone else’s standard of beauty. I want her to know that her beauty comes from the person she is, not what she puts on or in her body. And I want that message to begin now, because clearly, the opposite message is already being delivered–even to Kindergartners.