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How to talk to little girls
June 29, 2011 - Kylie Saari
I tell my little girl she is pretty. I delight in the outfits she picks out (they are fun, rarely match, and are purely practical). I enjoy shopping with her. And, horror of horrors, I let her get her ears pierced.
I don't think I am stunting her feminist growth.
But according to some, I am. In a big way.
Huffington Post blogger Lisa Bloom recently posted a blog about how to talk to little girls, and I think she has some valid points. And I think she was honest about her urge to talk clothes with mini-princesses. I think she was right about asking girls what they think about politics. But I think there is something to be said for moderation.
See, I don't only comment on my 6-year-old's looks. I talk to her about books, friends, science, and staying healthy. I tell her I exercise because it is important to be strong, not because I could stand to lose a few pounds — and it is true, it is important to me to be strong. I encourage her to learn to use tools in her dad's workshop. I make sure she sees me fixing things.
I think while we work to teach girls they have value outside of their bodies, we can't ignore our society. My own mother never commented on our looks. We were told we could do anything we wanted to do. We were encouraged in school and sports. We grew up to be strong, smart women, but while I won't speak for my sisters, I can tell you I struggled to learn about make-up and style well after my peers had figured it out, and I endured some embarrassment in the process. (Red lipstick is not for everyone.)
Not talking about it at home didn't change my desire to mimic women in society, it just made me work a little harder for it.
I have rarely seen a news article about President Obama's wardrobe, but Mrs. Obama's outfits are regularly featured. Both are polished well-accomplished professionals. Both highly respected.
When I tell my daughter she is pretty, it is never in reference to what she is wearing, or how her hair is done. It is a recognition that she, herself, without any help, is pretty. When she got her ears pierced, it was her idea. I never told her they made her pretty, I told her she was brave. She wanted to be like her mom, and I like to think that is a reasonable goal.
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