October 5, 2007

What will I teach my daughter?


This video frightens me. It scares me because I see myself in it.

I was the typical girl in high school who based her self-esteem on what boys thought of me. I fawned over my crushes in my classes and I bit my lip in disappointment when they paid me no attention. Sometimes at night I would cry into my pillow, feeling ugly and sad because no boy had asked me to Homecoming.

I brought my low self-worth with me to college where, at times, I would still cry after my roommate had long fallen asleep. On weekends I would watch my friends go out on dates and receive attention from the boys in our apartment complex. Later on I would watch as they got engaged and married. Of course, I was happy for them but I was also disappointed that no charming beau had wooed me to be his lovely maiden.

For years my self-confidence was reliant upon how I looked on the outside. No matter how well I performed in my classes and no matter how well-read I became, I wished I could become someone else. I would stare longingly at the petite BYU co-eds who embodied our society's description of beauty---long smooth hair, small thin noses, wide blue eyes, and picture perfect frames---and I wished I could look like them. It mattered little to me that they weren't very smart or couldn't hold a decent conversation. They could offer something that I couldn't---and I wanted to be beautiful more than anything else.

It took a long time for me to finally focus on the good qualities I embodied. It took a very long time for me to place my self-worth in the context of my intelligence, my writing, my work ethic, and my ability to find common ground with others, rather than my physical appearance. But somewhere down the road I decided that I would love myself freely instead of loving myself if only some guy thought I was pretty. And after I finally reached this pinnacle, I found the self-confidence that I had longed for my entire life.

I worry though about my future daughter. I worry that she will fall into the same trap I fell into, crying into her pillow at night because Bobby asked another girl to the dance. I want to show my girls that it is their mind---not their face or body---that is beautiful. The last thing I want is for them to imprison themselves as I did for so many years, getting sad and depressed over something that can be so temporary and fleeting.

I suppose I can only try my best to raise them well and to dispel the messages that the beauty industry will send them. And to hope that they will be smarter than I was.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, Caroline. I think ours is the generation to begin to reclaim the female body from late-20th century masochism (er . . "fashion icons").

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  2. hey dear, that movie REALLY affected me. i've shown it to all of my friends.

    how are you? how is everything? i think of you often and send my love...

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  3. Oh my lovely lesbian, you were always beautiful, although a bit awkward in your youth (as was I) and of course you have blossomed into a butterfly! Lucky Justin.

    Anyhoo, our society's vision of beauty is becoming uglier and uglier as women mangle their bodies with botox, plastic surgery, collagen injections, all in a desperate attempt to cultivate that which you had all along - quality!

    PS - this blog entry is hilarious - http://www.assertivepatient.com/2007/09/retiring-jabba.html

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