KILDARE PARENTING COLUMN: How do I maintain the self-confidence of my gorgeous girl?

Ruth Chambers gives her views

Ruth Chambers

Reporter:

Ruth Chambers

Email:

ruth@itsjustaphase.ie

KILDARE PARENTING COLUMN: How do I maintain the self-confidence of my gorgeous girl?

My gorgeous little Sarah

“Mammy, I’m so gorgeous.” Those are the words my Sarah utters when she catches a glimpse of herself in the full-length mirror in our hallway. I tell her all the time that she is gorgeous because she is.

I don’t tell her she’s gorgeous based just on aesthetics, although, as her mammy, I do happen to think she’s the cutest little girl on the planet! She’s gorgeous because she’s a kind little girl; because she has a super sense of humour; because she’s clever. The whole package of Sarah is just gorgeous.

I know it and she knows it and I just love that she knows it and she wholeheartedly believes it. She’s full of self-confidence and one of my main aims as a parent is to try my damndest to make sure she stays that way.

I’m female though, and I know that’s going to be a difficult task. I’m sure my own mother told me I was gorgeous too, but my memories of growing up aren’t of me being confident in my own skin. In fact, I was anything but.

Society these days, and indeed back when I was younger, paints a very different view of what gorgeous is. As a grown woman I count a beautiful person as someone who is kind, someone who is understanding and helpful.

Someone who listens well and someone who has manners — all the things I want my children to be. However, we are still force fed the image of what is gorgeous. We are told that Victoria’s Secret models, who parade down a runway with underwear on, are gorgeous. We are told that if we aren’t gorgeous enough we can get concealer to cover it. We can get Spanx to try to make ourselves gorgeous and fit into clothes.

We can get make-up tattooed on and extensions on our nails. Our teeth can be whitened and we can do all sorts of diets to drop a few dress sizes.

So when do kids, and mostly little girls, start to buy in to all this s**t? I’m bloody well dreading it. I’m dreading the day that someone tells my little girl that she does not fit in to the box that is gorgeous today. I’m dreading the day that my daughter feels inadequate.

Can I stop it happening? Ideally I’d like to say yes, but reality tells me otherwise. She’s four and has already been teased because she wears glasses. Luckily she’s confident right now and loves her glasses so it’s not an issue.

Is it possible for me to keep her like this, can she not always look in the mirror and tell herself she’s gorgeous?

I don’t remember when I started to feel inadequate compared to other girls when I was younger. I’m guessing it came around the time I was in fifth or sixth class in primary school, and it certainly cranked up so many more notches when I went in to an all-girls secondary school.

I always thought I was fat, even though I was anything but back then. I just had no self-confidence at the time, and indeed my self-confidence only properly returned recently. I’m at a stage now that I’m comfortable in my own skin and I don’t care what other people think of me.

I am me; you either like me or you don’t. If you don’t that’s totally fine because I only properly include people in my life that like me for me. It’s refreshing and I wish I could turn back time and tell my teenage self about it.

Perhaps I should take a video of Sarah looking in the mirror and telling herself that she’s gorgeous. I will remind her everyday that gorgeous has nothing to do with the clothes she is wearing, what haircut she has or what she weighs.

I will also remind my son of the same. I don’t want him to be judging anyone by those measures. Somehow I think I’m kidding myself though. Actually I don’t think it, I know it. Whether my kids grow up to be heterosexual or homosexual, I know, that at some point, they will be judged on what they look like.

I also know they will eventually find someone who loves them for who they are, but it’s the younger, in-between years that will be the most difficult ones on them. They will be teased and they will be judged and, even though I will strive to teach them otherwise, they will probably judge others the same.

Isn’t it a terrible world we live in? Or maybe it’s just all part of growing up.

I don’t buy that though. Nobody should ever have to feel inadequate for any reason, be that for our looks, our earnings, our weight or what car we drive. Can we not just judge each other on the important stuff; whether someone is a kind person; whether someone is fun to be around; whether someone has empathy, because those things are way more important than fitting in to that size eight dress!

Until next week, folks!

You can contact me on ruth@itsjustaphase.ie; Twitter - @_itsjustaphase_; Instagram - @itsjustaphaseblog, or you’ll find more of my musings at www.itsjustaphase.ie.