I have been doing a lot of thinking lately – and looking at how to take these thoughts into actions, to make them real, in the real world, outside of myself.
I have two daughters and I have been wondering about the kind of future they will have and the opportunities that will exist. They are entering an age (nearly 9 and 6) where they are starting to encounter bullying and meanness and particularly the older one, questioning how she fits in with the world around her. She is starting to compare. From what I read, this is the common age for this sort of break from parents to occur. The break is not altogether harmonious, but that is for another post.
I read an article doing the rounds on facebook about Sarah Millican, who was recently nominated for a BAFTA. Like many I was saddened by the personal attack she received, based on her looks and clothing. Even today, achievement is not enough. The negative comments came from individuals, who clearly did not have a parent that taught them, “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing”.
So, my girls will grow up in a world where a woman’s appearance will be noticed and commented upon. We have the power to choose how we react to such commentary, but it still exists and it can really hurt. I find myself struggling with how to empower my girls, or perhaps, how to educate them to understand how (sadly) things seem to work. We will do our best as parents to equip them with the tools and resilience to cope in this environment, and to stand for something different.
In all of this I found myself being uncomfortable and icky about my thoughts that at least my girls are built slim. At least that will be one less thing they might have to be criticised for. But there is always something. I suspect they will both be very tall, as I was (and am) growing up, and that will possibly bring with it a raft of commentary.
I think this is my most important role as a parent, to have them grow up to be themselves in a world that wants them to conform. As the wonderful Ricky Martin said on 60 Minutes last night, “it is none of my business what people think of me.” Perhaps that is part of the armour we need to just live and let live.
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