We need to teach our children about ‘true’ beauty
This week I watched a seriously disturbing video where 8 black preschooler children are asked a series of questions about two dolls – one black and one white. The results are horrific indeed when each of the children when asked which is the ‘pretty’ doll points to the white doll and which is the ‘ugly’ doll points to the black one. Furthermore when asked which is the ‘bad’ doll they point out the black doll again and of course the white doll is the ‘good’ one. Most upsetting of all, the video ends with a gorgeous little girl being asked which of the two dolls is most like her and she points to the ‘black’ doll having previously identified it as the ‘ugly’ and ‘bad’ doll. If you want to watch it click here.
It is more than uncomfortable viewing – it’s heartbreaking – and you have to ask where these children who are not even yet at school have digested these messages into beliefs at such a young age. When I saw the video posted on Facebook one mum had commented underneath. ‘That’s what you get if you let the media teach your children what beauty is.’ And I have to agree with her.
Of course it is not just race, it’s body shape, sexuality, hair colour (blondes have more fun right?) – our whole idea of what is ‘beautiful’ is conditioned into us from a very early age and the results are damaging to both girls and boys, men and women.
Personally I think Barbie has a lot to answer for! Did you know that if Barbie were a real woman:
- She would be 6’ 0”.
- Weigh 100 lbs.
- Wear a size 8.
- Her measurements would be 39”/21”/33” (The average american woman being 40”/34”/43”)
- She would be too thin to menstruate.
- She would not be able to hold up her back and neck.
- Her waist would be the same circumference of her head.
- Her hips would be wider then her shoulders.
- She would weigh so little that she would have to be under constant hospital supervision to survive.
- She would have to crawl on all fours because of the size of her legs and feet.
- And, her waist would be so small that all of her organs would have to have been pushed up, down, or closer together, to fit, causing significant medical problems..
One comment under these facts wrote: ‘That’s what we are showing little girls “Perfection” is. The average American girl owns ten Barbie Dolls in her lifetime. Thanks Barbie, for ruining the female populations self-esteem completely, and for wanting a simply unrealistic body.’
We need to be counteracting these images to our children and alternatives are out there. Have you seen the Lottie doll? She is part of a new range of dolls designed to provide an alternative to the hyper-sexualised Barbie and Bratz dolls. Lottie has sturdy legs, a flat chest and practical clothes. Lottie’s “activities” are also based on those of a real child.
The media is a powerful and omnipresent force, yes, but I still believe we have much more influence as parents then we give ourselves credit for. If we show our children that we are ordinary women who are still beautiful and truly express an appreciation for our ‘realistic’ looks, then that is a greater message than our kids seeing us constantly on diets and criticising our looks. And this is a message we need to give to our boys as well as our girls as we’re educating boys how to appreciate true beauty as much as we’re teaching our girls how to see themselves.
Our children naturally have such wonderfully, open yet inquisitive, accepting minds that who are we to close down their definitions of beauty to the narrow-minded view of the media?
Consider this; by not loving yourself and appreciating your own looks and criticising your body you are demonstrating to your children that ‘perfection’ is beauty or the unrealistic images from the media are what we should aspire too.
Let’s practise and appreciate true beauty and teach that to our children!
For a more in-depth post on the issue of race and beauty check out the post on my personal blog