Pre-Schoolers Dream of Being Princesses

posted in: Opinion, Parenting, Self Image 61 comments

My Daughter is a Princess.  She is loving, kind, impetuous, gentle, funny, creative, wild, sometimes disobedient, sometimes bossy, and incredibly intelligent.  No Princess is perfect – and I want her to know that she doesn’t have to be.

Sophia will be 4 in September, and I believe she is beautiful.  As her mother, I am 100% biased.  I also believe that all children are beautiful and more importantly, I believe that they should know this and not doubt for one minute either their inner or outer beauty.  At such a young age it seems impossible for a child to worry about her looks, to wonder whether she is beautiful enough to be a princess.  It breaks my heart to see Sophia ponder that very question.

My daughter talks about being a princess constantly.  She lives in dress up and imaginary lands where everyone around her is cast in a role as a princess, knight, fairy, pirate or mermaid.  Usually I am either a good queen or an evil queen and I am happy to play along.  However, the last couple of weeks all this princess talk has me in a tizzy.  Our fairy tale is in jeopardy.

Sometimes, Sophia is not sure she is beautiful enough to be a princess.  It started with her hair.  She has never had a lot of hair and it is taking forever to grow.  She begged me to let her bangs grow out, convinced that would help her look more like a princess.  I agreed.  As long as she is not asking to shave her head or dye it purple, it is her hair and if she doesn’t want bangs – so be it.  Lately, she has been unhappy with her hair’s growth and more than once I have found her sobbing over the length of her locks.  She wakes up in the morning and stares in the mirror, wondering how much it grew while she slept.  Even more recently, she was in distress over the light brown color I myself was blessed with and now dye as most would call it mousy brown.  I have never said this to her.  I think her hair is perfect.  She said she can’t be a beautiful princess without long blond hair.  She demands to know when it will be long.  She compares herself to every girl with long hair.  I have told her that being beautiful has nothing to do with the length of your hair but the size of your heart.  She is not buying it.

The other day, Sophia asked me if she was fat.  She said Princesses are not fat and she wanted to know if she was.  I, probably with way too much enthusiasm, said absolutely not.  I am not sure I convinced her.  As her mother and her best friend, isn’t she supposed to believe me at this age?  Shouldn’t she know that when I say she would make a perfect princess I am telling the truth?  Little girls who are 4 years old should not worry about being fat…ever.

My little princess also spends time obsessing about clothing and whether or not each piece that she is wearing is beautiful.  I get frustrated, telling her that it is not our clothes that make us beautiful.  I say it is nice to have lovely things, but that what you wear is not as important as how you act.  She says she knows, but don’t I know that sparkly dresses are prettier than jean shorts?  Seriously?  I am totally stuck here.

Usually she thinks she is beautiful and dances around the house singing about gardens and fairies and pixie dust.  It is precious sight!  In the moments when she is unsure of herself I fear I will lose it.  I wonder if I have made a mistake somewhere along the line.  

Why does she worry?

I am sure that the Barbies everyone gives her on every occasion for presents do not help.  I bet the princess movies and books she devours are part of the problem too.  Everything she sees is long, blond and very skinny!  She loves these stories and usually these gorgeous royals have a big heart and are doing good.  I do think Sophia is getting the lessons along with the small beauty complex.  I also do not want to take something away that she loves so much – this fairy tale land.

Is part of this just being a girl?

I know I struggled with body image, and still do.  My parents never gave me reason to worry, always telling me I was special and pretty and wonderful.  Still, while I do not remember being self-conscious as a small child, I know I was weighing myself before junior high school.  I am sure my own mother was worried too.  To this day she tells me I am beautiful, and sometimes I struggle to believe her.  My husband tells me too, and I love him for it.  I would by lying if I said that my outer appearance is not important to me.  I just don’t want is to preoccupy me or take any joy from my life. 

More importantly now, I don’t want it to take any precious moments away from my daughter’s own childhood.

What can we as parents do to make our little girls proud of who they are and how they look?  There is no way to keep pop culture completely out of their lives and I believe it would be unrealistic to do so considering they will grow up and be assaulted with it as we are.  So where do we go from here? 

I want her to know….

Your heart and soul are the most important things.  Love and kindness trump looks any day of the week.

You can be beautiful with long hair or short hair or no hair at all.

Clothes do not make the woman.   We are lucky to have beautiful things – but not everybody can dress in sparkles and dresses and they are princesses too. 

Our bodies are a gift and we must treat them with respect and care, but we are all made differently.  Big or small – short or tall – we are all beautiful and we are all major Princess material!

That life is to be lived and enjoyed.  The more she lives and loves and plays the happier she will be.  Let your crown fall off and your short hair blow in the wind and know – my sweet daughter – that you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I will think so no matter what – forever and ever – to infinity and beyond.

Even if you are covered in chalk and in a sweatshirt.  You may not know it – but we can see your beauty no matter what you wear.

Do you have any advice?  Do your little girls already worry about their looks?  Am I silly to be worried?  I hope I am not alone and I hope that we can all work together to let girls know they are all beautiful.  And so are we.

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Brittany
I'm Brittany. I believe that simple is best and that smiling can make or break a day. I love being a woman, a wife and a mother. I like to make pretty things and making things with big tools. I am a huge fan of good design. I love to travel. Hugs make me happy. I share my life, experiences, tips and tutorials in the hope that this community can find a whole lot of awesome together.
Brittany
Brittany

57 comments… add one

  • August 17, 2010 amber

    Oh, my heart is breaking, a little. I wish girls would stay little a little longer! I don’t have any advice—only sympathy. Just keep telling her she is beautiful, and hopefully she’ll start believing it again.

    Maybe you could cut her Barbies’ hair? One or two? No, that prob’ly wouldn’t work.
    amber recently posted… Take A Deep BreathMy Profile

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    • August 17, 2010 Brittany

      That’s not a bad idea! If I can get her to be calm and not freak out maybe we could give the Barbie’s a haircut! Thanks!

      Reply
  • This brought tears to my eyes b/c I already see this in my daughter and she will be 3 next month. She is really focused on clothing, changes 3 times a day. It seems innate, I know I tell her how beautiful she is but I try not to focus on her outward appearance by saying “oh look at your beautiful smile”. But, she picks up on everything. You are not silly to be worried, little girls are growing up too fast and they are keen at noticing what others are wearing and what they look like. I’m so torn on the whole princess thing b/c I don’t want her to feel she has to live up to that ideal…I don’t know, I’m learning as I go too.

    I think you’re doing a wonderful job telling her what is important and the things that make her beautiful are not about what she wears, etc. Looking forward to reading more on this topic and maybe some day soon, I will write about it too :) Thanks.
    Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) recently posted… My Sleep Make OverMy Profile

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    • August 17, 2010 Brittany

      It is so tough. Imagination is my favorite thing about childhood and she loves these games but I can’t believe she cannot imagine a princess being anything other than a hollywood idea. I will continue to try and put positive images and ideas in front of her and hope that she begins to see what real princesses look like!

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Julie

    I think you’re doing a fantastic job weathering this right now, Brittany, and I know with your constant support and vigilance, she will grow up with a healthy body image! Maybe it’s a rite of passage…
    Julie recently posted… Flops Happen- A Chronicle of My Kitchen FailuresMy Profile

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    • August 17, 2010 Brittany

      Thanks. It seems it must be a rite of passage of some sort considering I don;t know many girls who did not go through this…I guess I thought I had like a bunch more years of innocence though!

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Margie

    It sucks that Sophie even has to think about these things at such a young age!!! It starts so young and nothing in our society tells us we are wrong to be insecure. As a teacher of 5 year olds, I learned I had to watch my mouth when it came to body-image. Years ago one of my kindergarteners overheard me telling my assisstant that I needed to lose weight, or Paul would leave me. I was only half-joking, but at 5 she did not realize this and told me that I was not fat, which was then followed by a bunch a beautiful things.
    So the point is, that we as women need to watch what we say when children are around, little boys and little girls. It is one thing to say to them that beauty is on the inside, etc. but if they hear us complaining about ourselves, then what message are we really sending?
    This post made me sad :(

    Reply
    • August 18, 2010 Brittany

      Don’t be sad! She will be okay – we are very casreful what we say and I think she is just going through her first self-conscious phase. I will do anything to make sure she does not hear the weight complaints coming from me! xoxo

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Scary Mommy

    Oh, I wish I had an answer. Sending you love, B. It’s so hard.

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Natalie

    I’m so worrid about my kid’s body images. I’ve overheard my oldest say he doesn’t like fat people. Which we had a LONG talk about the hows and whys of it being so wrong. My middle son thinks he needs to lose weight. He’s 11! There isn’t an ounce of extra skin on him, let alone fat. The real kicker is that my sweet little 4 year old told me her legs were chubby. Really? There’s barely any baby fat on her let alone chub.

    I’d love to be able to solely blame the media on these issues, but I know I have to accept some of hte responsibility. I’m forever worried about what I look like or an extra pound on the scale.

    I wish I had some words of advice for you, but all I can do is tell you that you aren’t alone.
    Natalie recently posted… This parenting thing is HARDMy Profile

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  • Keep telling her she is beautiful no matter what she is wearing, what her hair looks like and that beauty is so on the inside. I wish this was easier. I do see some of this in my 3 1/2 yr old daughter too. It is very scary.
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  • August 17, 2010 Heidi

    Oh, I have pondered this very thought many times. As a former elementary school teacher, I heard six and seven year olds discuss beauty and fashion and exclude the girls who weren’t pretty enough. How sad, I thought. And then I had my own daughter and it really hit home. Molly is only one but I am trying to be more aware of my own body image – making comments about being fat, my hair, whatEVER – and thinking about how she will internalize these comments and play them out in her own life. I believe, as moms, we are a crucial part of helping our daughters (and sons!) have a healthy body image and respect the bodies/appearances of others. However, I don’t know HOW to do this other than modeling appropriate behaviors and talking openly about society’s expectations.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Jacquie | After Words

    My 3 yo princess reminds me a lot of yours–they have the same haircut (maybe because it looks cute even if it is not long and blonde)? My girl is big–tall and but also heavy. At the playground not so long ago an older boy called her fat. She didn’t hear it, I don’t think–and if she did I’m not sure she knows it was an insult, but all too soon she will. And it scares me.

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Michelle Kouzmine

    This broke my heart. I wish we moms knew the magic way to raise all of our kids to believe in themselves and feel good about themselves, even though I think kids get these ideas not from how they are raised, but from a combination of society’s influence and their own natural personalities. I have 2 daughters, one of whom worries everyday over her looks. She won’t leave the house unless she’s dressed up and her hair is just so. Her older sister, however, has no interest in fashion or beauty, and at 8 years old has said she’d “rather look smart than beautiful.”

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 angelica

    I am in absolute fear of this issue. My 4 yr old changes 40 times a day, and is a princess most of the time. Her sense of style often embarrasses me, but fortunately she does not question her wonderfulness, yet.

    I’m so afraid because I know what a big burden is out there, and I know it weighs on me, and I SO want to protect her from it.

    We can’t close off the world. the princess world has a lot of beautiful things. I think Margie is right. We got a live what we preach, and watch our mouths, because if what we tell them is different from what we tell ourselves they are going to work it out.

    hopefully there are enough of us to change the world, even a little bit

    PS shrek (an ugly fat princess) and cutting barbie’s hair sounds good to me too
    angelica recently posted… parenthood is nothing but a series of daysMy Profile

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  • August 17, 2010 Ofthesea

    But she is beautiful! She is perfect!!

    Don’t you know if someone is saying these things to her? My grandmother loved me and meant well, but she totally destroyed my self-image in the teenage years with double-edged comments. Or maybe her little friends? I’d keep an eye and ear out to find where she is getting this from.

    Because she is beautiful. And a perfect little princess.

    And you can tell her I said that!

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Sherry Carr-Smith

    I have two boys, but I have five nieces. One of the six year olds told me the other day that she is chubby. I wanted to cry. I probably snapped at her when I said, “there is nothing about you that is chubby; and, even if you were, there isn’t anything wrong with being chubby if you’re healthy.”

    The other thing that gets me is not referring to my own weight in a negative light with them. I try really hard, it doesn’t always work, but I hope they never hear me say I’m too big. Getting healthy, yes, but not just “fat.”

    We work really hard not to use any nicknames with our boys that are looks-based. Factual (we have a blue-eyed boy and a brown-eyed boy), but not looks alone.

    Will any of it make a difference? I have no idea. But we all have to keep trying.
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  • August 17, 2010 Melissa {adventuroo}

    Oh this post makes me so sad for all the little girls growing up in this world. My heart is breaking for you because you’re saying and doing all the right things- I think it’ll sink in with repetition. It makes me so dang angry that society places such unrealistic expectations on things, whether it be a fad diet or fairy tale princesses.

    Hang in there!
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  • August 17, 2010 Lisa

    My daughter is almost 3 and just entered the princess adoration stage. She prances around her all day. She feels beautiful and I tell her all the time, no matter what she is wearing or doing that she is beautiful. I talk to her about where beauty comes from, about how is more about how you act than how you look. It is hard. I don’t want her to ever feel not beautiful or worry about her looks.

    I don’t have any answers for you, but I think you are doing a great job so far.
    Lisa recently posted… Project Wood Floors- CompleteMy Profile

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  • August 17, 2010 LZ

    Having 2 girls myself, I am terrified of this. I remember babysitting my 6 year old cousin a few years back and her telling me she was too fat and needed to diet. I was floored.
    I think all you can do is stress health and uniqueness. When I exercise, I tell my girls that it’s to stay healthy, never saying lose weight. When M asks why she has ‘smooth’ hair and her sister’s is curly, I say that she has the hair she was meant to have and it is just the right hair for her.
    I do always give her choices when getting dressed or buying new clothes, letting her feel like she had a part in it.
    I’m sorry about this…it’s so young, but I’m not surprised. Without getting all philosophical, it really is messed up that this hits kids at such a young age.
    LZ recently posted… Did I buy whatMy Profile

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  • August 17, 2010 Grateful Twin Mom

    I wonder if body image and noticing one’s self in comparison to others isn’t part of human nature. I think maybe Sophia is just growing into herself, and because she’s a little girl and not a cartoon, she can’t possibly look like a cartoon princess, but, like you said, she’s exactly the way she’s supposed to be. And she is beautiful–adorable–and personality is a huge part of that. I think you’re definitely smart to be aware of her feelings about herself.

    I recognize this same pattern with my 7-year-old, and in addition to telling her that I love her no matter what she looks like and that she’s the most beautiful girl in the world to me, I reflect her feelings back to her. I don’t want her to think that I’m blowing off the feelings she’s having about herself that are VERY real to her (even though I know they’re not even a little true). “Maybe you’re feeling that only girls with blonde, straight hair can be popular. Maybe you’re thinking brown, curly hair is not pretty.” It’s not true, but she knows I’ve heard her.

    I love what you said about letting her crown fall off and brown hair blow in the wind. Such a cute set of photos! Keep up the excellent mommy-ing!
    Grateful Twin Mom recently posted… Romance Revisited – With Kids!My Profile

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  • August 17, 2010 Rachel

    Has she seen Shrek? Because princess Fiona is defintely not
    your typical “princess”.

    Reply
    • August 17, 2010 Brittany

      Yep – she says she is not an ogre. That is different! ugh :(

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Gretchen johnson

    All you can do is exactly what you are already doing, and telling her how beautiful she is. Tell her to put on the brakes..there is lots of time to have long hair but right now you want her to be your beautiful baby. It goes by so fast!!

    I enjoyed reading your post, thank you!

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Nicole

    Awe, your daughter is beautiful. It breaks my heart for her to think that way of herself at such a young age. It is so tough being a girl, and now at the tender age of 4. You are doing a fantastic job. Hugs go out to you and your daughter.

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Carol

    Oh beautiful baby girl! Why is it so hard to be a girl? I remember when Mo was 5 and she refused to eat anything unless I could convince her there wasn’t fat in it because she didn’t want to be fat. Her father and I are both thin people who have never worried about our weight so I have no idea where this obsession with fat came from, but come it did.
    Now she is 17 and still fluctuates, some days she loves her hair, some days she hates it. Same goes for her face, her hips, her thighs, and the list goes on and on. It is so painful that we live in a society that makes us feel we will never be perfect enough, even at 4.
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  • August 17, 2010 Maria

    Grrr…why does it start so young?

    Beautiful. Ahhh…should little girls even know this word? I worry about this too. People were always telling my daughter, “you’re so pretty” and I would tell them, “please, please tell her how smart she is!”

    Thankfully there are some great resources out there for the tween groups like New Moon Girls and Dove Self Esteem for real beauty but they are not for girls as young as ours.

    She is adorable and I feel for you.
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    • December 21, 2010 Tracy

      Thanks for mentioning NewMoon.com, Maria. It’s true, NewMoon.com encourages girls to be themselves! It’s not a very business-like thing to do, but it’s what we believe.

      I just came across this blog and want to share it with our Facebook group. She really expresses her concerns so well. I know a lot of parents will relate.

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Tracie

    I wonder if there is someone who is putting these thoughts in her mind. Maybe one if her little friends isn’t such a good friend after all? Kids can be mean, even at her age. I especially wonder this in light of her age and the fact that you are being so intentional about giving her such good and healthy messages.

    I’m sorry to see her struggle. She is such a cute little princess up there in her Belle costume…and in her sweats.
    Tracie recently posted… Embracing My BodyMy Profile

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  • August 17, 2010 Anon

    I, too, have a 4-year-old girl, so I felt compelled to leave a comment. Your post, (wonderfully written, btw), struck a chord with me in several ways. First of all, I can imagine the pain it causes you that your daughter expresses these concerns to you already. It’s just too soon.
    On the other hand, at 4 years old, these “worries” are coming from somewhere. Everything kids do and say at this age comes from somewhere, I think. Like a previous person said, is she getting comments from friends about short hair? Does she hear lots of talk about pretty hair, pretty clothes, and being skinny from somewhere? I would tone down all the princess stuff if at all possible. If she loves it that much, I’m sure it would be next to impossible to take it away, and you would never want to take away something so special to her.
    But from a general, clinical standpoint (not talking about your situation in particular) I think the fixation little girls have on “princesses” is kind of odd and slightly unhealthy. I have a boy and a girl, very close in age, so I’ve always steered away from shows/toys that are extremely gender bias, just to make things easier. And it’s worked out wonderfully for me. I think it makes children well-rounded and better able to make friends with girls AND boys. Girls can play with trucks and trains and boys can pretend to feed baby dolls and stuffed animals.
    Maybe you could gently lead her away from the princess things by finding something else she’s interested in. Animals, arts and crafts, sports, etc. It sounds like you’re doing everything you can to improve her self-confidence. Best of luck to you!

    Reply
    • August 17, 2010 Brittany

      @Anon, I agree and this is so tough because she plays with everything from trains to cowboys to knights along with her girl stuff – she is just usually dressed in her Belle costume while she does it. Actually, my son Miles, who is 2 – is happy to play right along with her, which is fine with me. He tells her all the time she is so pretty! I don’t know how much more we can try to steer away. She picks a book (alwasy girly) and Miles picks a book (Elmo or Dinosaur) and then my husband and I each pick one (one of the ones not otherwise ever selected) and no matter how we suggest other choices things do not change. I am going to speak to her pre-school teacher when she starts again in a few weeks and hopefully she can help too. Thanks for the comment and advice!

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Rachel

    Oh! Just keep telling her she’s beautiful. My daughter is 5 and I’ve only just let her have a Sleeping Beauty Barbie for this exact reason.

    Reply
  • August 17, 2010 Sara

    Our children mirror us… good, bad… I need a brand new vocabulary. ;-)
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    • August 18, 2010 Brittany

      Yes but in this case I think she is mirroring other families and not me. We are very careful about not using this terminology surrounding fat and thin and I am more concerned about that than about the beautiful – because I can tell her that many different things are beautiful! I should get a better vocab too though!

      Reply
      • August 18, 2010 Sara

        It’s so unfair when other families have influence on our children — we work so hard to raise them!
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        • August 18, 2010 Brittany

          I’m thinking of the right way to ask Sophia because I am sure she knows and I have my ideas….we shall see!

          Reply
        • August 18, 2010 Brittany

          Can’t wait for the playdate – no bad influences mkay? Tell m if yu get this in email!

          Reply
  • August 18, 2010 decafmom

    What a sweet, sad post. It’s clear that you care about your daughter very much, and it’s wonderful that you are conscious of her feelings; I bet there are still moms in this day and age who tell their little girls “don’t eat that because you’ll get fat”!

    I wanted to echo the comment from Maria. Other commenters are encouraging you to build up Sophia’s self-esteem by telling her she’s beautiful, but isn’t that making “beauty” too important? No matter how hard you try to redefine beauty as what’s inside, that’s a tough sell. Why should beauty matter at all?

    Additionally, like it or not, beautiful is a very gender-specific adjective in our society. I have two boys (the oldest is almost 3) and I’ve noticed among my friends how boys and girls are spoken to with different words. A friend’s daughter has a “beautiful bedroom” or a “pretty dress,” while my son has an “awesome closet” or a “cool shirt.” It’s not your fault, but it’s important to be aware of these powerful words.

    Of course you want to compliment your child, especially if you fear a fragile self-image. My suggestion is to model your values by paying attention to the qualities that you value, which lets you emphasize how she acts rather than how she looks. Instead of “good job” or “how nice,” for example, make an effort to provide positive feedback that’s specific to her behavior. Some examples: “what a friendly gesture” or “that was generous of you” or “you were so persistent” or “wow, you really followed directions.”

    Kudos for your post and for caring enough to write it.
    decafmom recently posted… I hate the parkMy Profile

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  • August 18, 2010 erica

    i think sophia feels the way she does partly because of her personality and also because of all the princess images around her. it might be too late to take them out of her life now but, it could help

    Reply
    • August 18, 2010 Brittany

      Uh Oh! There are 30 kids on my block – most of them girls – all under the age of 10. Not sure how much we cn limit the princess around here. It is like a Dsiney princess parade most days! She plays with LOTS of different things and has a lot of different interests – she just plays most things – even trains or blocks – pretending to be a princess.

      I agree though – her personality has alwasy gravitated towards the sparkle and glitz of princess land!

      Reply
  • August 18, 2010 Mama Fuss

    What Disney Princess has long blonde hair except maybe for Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)? There’s redheads, and brunettes and black girls, and Asian girls and Arabian girls – I actually think that Disney has done a fairly good job of giving us diversity in their princesses. And remind Sophia that each of these princesses is older than she is and has had time to grow out her hair.

    I had a friend in Jr high who was obsessed w/ Gone With the Wind. She wanted to have 17″ waist. She missed the part about the corset. My friend had a 21″ waist naturally. She was skinny. Skinny skinny. And gorgeous. I think there is always the case sometimes of wanting something different from who we are –

    As far as the dresses vs jean shorts goes my sister lets her very girlie daughter (age 5 in December) just wear the dresses. There are dresses for special occasions that are only worn for that case (church, a party, a wedding) and dresses for dress up (costumes), but there are plenty of every day dresses as well – either dressier ones with some slight damage (she finds a lot at thrift shops) or cute cotton numbers that are perfectly suitable for playing in. When going to a playground, my niece wears her shorts underneath her dress so as not to show off something that shouldn’t be shown while she is playing. Sometimes it’s hot, but she adjusts. I’m all about expressing individuality in clothes as long as they are not inappropriate for their age or purpose (I’m not letting my kid out dressed like a mini-hooker)

    One thing discussed on Ask Moxie a few weeks ago is to make sure that WE as parents, and specifically mothers, aren’t criticizing our own bodies for not being perfect. Kids pick up on that and then imitate, of course. So if I walk around bemoaning that I am too fat or my hair is ugly, then my child will begin to believe that she might be too fat or has ugly hair, too.

    Reply
    • August 18, 2010 Brittany

      Ah yes – we love all the Disney Princesses and like I said, the stories all teach good lessons. I don’t think any have short hair but they all skinny and boobied and well – we tell her that not all princesses look like that. I agree that it is alwasy going to be hard because there will alwasy be those who you wantt to look like or wish you had her hair or whatever. I know that this will hit her full on one day. I am trying to figure out how to make her strong enough in herself confidence to weather the storm better than I did!

      We also wear shorts beneath our dresses and I agree it is okay to let her choose her clothes as long as they are appropriate.

      Finally – we do not talk about being chubby or fat or ugly and actually try to refrain from talking about looks at all except in responding to Sophia’s questions. We try to focus on being a good sharer or listener or helper. I hope those qualities will start to be her focus too!

      Thank so much for the comment!

      Reply
  • August 18, 2010 Theta Mom

    Having a little girl myself, this scares me too – your daughter is SO precious. Love those pictures!!

    Reply
    • August 18, 2010 Brittany

      Heather yes its scary but she has got it together in so many other ways I am just hoping that with enough positive encouragement we can make this growing up a girl thing as painless as possible! Thanks!

      Reply
    • August 18, 2010 Brittany

      Okay Take 2…tell me if you get this one!

      Reply
  • August 19, 2010 Melisa

    No, you are not wrong to worry. It broke my heart to read this and know your darling daughter is 4 and is worried about such superficial things. I like you blame things like Barbies, etc. Even as adults it seems the pretty girl with the brown hair will always be pushed aside for the blonde with big boobs and a tiny waste. Keep telling her she is beautiful! She is too young to talk about these things with but be ready to have the conversation when she can understand and tell you why she feels the way she does. I hope she will begin to realize that her mom is right and no matter the length or color of her hair, she is beautiful.

    My mom use to tell my sister she was fat because she kept her baby weight for a while. My sister was beautiful as a baby and a teen and even now as an adult..but now she weighs 90 pounds, works out to death and still thinks she is fat. Growing up I can’t remember my mother telling me I was beautiful…I do remember her always commenting on how skinny I was. Now after having 1 baby, she tells me “oh, good you got skinny again.” I guess what I’m trying to say is we learn a lot from our parents, so keep telling never stop telling her how beautiful, smart and perfect she is!

    And finally, when I purchase Barbie as gifts, I always use to buy the brunette doll. Especially if the recipient was a brunette! Maybe limit the blondes she gets??
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  • Little ones grow up so fast these days and they do worry about their looks at an early age. My five year old even has discovered boys already-what!? They all need to slow down and just be kids!

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  • August 21, 2010 Amy

    Ugh! I have no advice. My daughter is just turning two and this hurts my heart to know I am going to have to go through this. I think just keep telling her she is beautiful and smart and perfect because she is who she is but also maybe trying to get her to cultivate some other ideas of “princess.” Like the scientist princess or the soccer playing princess, etc. My best friend’s daughter who just turned five is all about the girlie girl stuff but she also takes karate and loves playing the guitar. I think these things are giving her a confidence that makes her more beautiful than any head of long blond hair could ever do.

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  • August 23, 2010 Loukia

    My goodness, she is beyond beautiful, she’s just a darling little girl and such a princess, too! It is sad to hear her ask those questions at such a young, young age! I guess the most we can do is to keep telling our children how perfect they are… in every single way! It is always something to worry about, isn’t it? And it’s tough when the questions they ask are difficult and make our hearts heavy.

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  • August 24, 2010 Kelly

    I’m sorry little Sophie is already struggling with this, but it sounds as though you already know what to do and how to do it. Show her that imperfect bodies are miracles of life and that beauty comes in many different packages. Show her how amazing she is and that her rock-star spirit will shine through no matter what.

    Hugs to you!

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  • December 22, 2010 Ines Almeida

    Hi Brittany,

    my mission in life is to support parents and girls through this journey, for the past 4 months I have been sharing resources and information on Twitter @girlempowerment, on facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/7wonderlicious/163394857022326 and well as in my blog. I am in the process of releasing a book and an ipad app that teach girls that beauty comes from within. I hope you find the information useful and I would love to receive your straight-talking feedback on my efforts.
    thank you for being a mum that is tuned into the threat to girlhood that having princesses and barbies as role models can be.

    Ines

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  • December 22, 2010 LeeAnn

    Why not try some picture books with non-traditional princesses? The Paper Bag Princess by Munsch comes to mind. If you look that one up at amazon, you can also find others like it. My princess girl is 13 now. I remember how cheated she felt when Fiona’s true form was an ogre. Now she is a wonderfully grounded, intelligent, and level-headed. Keep encouraging your princess and she’ll be just fine. (She is absolutely adorable, by the way–what a smile!)

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  • December 22, 2010 Jackie

    Have you tried reading “The Paper Bag Princess”? I’m sure there are many other great alternatives.

    I found your story thru the link posted on New Moon Girls. I feel for you. I have a daughter who is almost 7 and a younger son. He enjoys dressing up as much as she does, and wonders why he doesn’t have any dresses. So far, for us, that’s the most our gender issues have gone.

    I believe it’s wrong to think we can’t keep pop culture away from our young children. I believe we can, and that it is our responsibility to do what we can to limit exposure of our young children to the issues of the adult world.

    It means thinking outside the box. It means releasing ourselves of the grips of indoctrinated perceptions and perspectives. It means not accepting the status quo without question. It means thinking about our place in the world even as we watch those princess movies or choose toys for our children.

    We have not had a television since our daughter was 1. We are very selective about what movies our children watch. When their peers talk about pop characters we talk about why other people might like them and why they may not be the right thing for us and why they make me feel uncomfortable. So far, our daughter enjoys imaginative dress-ups, but chooses not to wear clothing that has pictures of other people or characters on them. She doesn’t feel that she is missing out on anything.

    A 4 yr old who is feeling the kind of pressure you write about is not totally lost in the woods. You are listening to her concerns. Don’t underestimate the influence of all those pretty movies about pretty people doing lovely and exciting things.

    What do you want your child to be influenced by?

    Thanks for opening the discussion.

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  • December 23, 2010 Annie Bananie

    My daughter who is now 9 was once obsessed with princesses and now she has let that go for art and making things. As parents we are the biggest influence in our children’s lives and seeing as they are little monkeys and learning through imitation we are their example. Seeing the influence of the media on my own children I have gotten rid of the tv and sensor the movies we watch. At 9 my daughter still believes in santa and fairies. I think that putting stress on this concern would only amplify it. I think that giving her experiences like walks in the woods and confidence building experiences would help her steer her to know the great ability her body has and less focus on clothes and looks. As parents we have a great force working against us and that is the media!

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  • July 27, 2012 Vickie B.

    My daughter had a bout of princess worship for a season or two, and since she was so keen on royalty I went out and got her a nice book about real life princesses (plenty of pictures). Some (well, many) of their stories were actually quite tragic, but I think that the pictures of them helped to calm her perception that all princesses are beautiful and blonde and wear sparkles, and it introduced her to the interesting realm of World History. If you introduce her to real-life women and their stories – women who are heroes and role models (or should be considered as such) who are around us every where, every day – she is bound to develop a better self image and an interest in cultivating knowledge. Do you know a real life woman who has made a significant difference in the community? Tell her about women who made history that changed the world – Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, Helen Keller, Sally Ride – just to name a few! There are so many better role models than a blasted Disney princess whose only goal in life is to get married in her teens to some guy she barely knows so she can live “happily ever after”.

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    • July 31, 2012 Brittany

      Vickie, thank you for your comment! We do introduce the kids to real life women, both princesses and not. I was a history major so life stories are my favorite! I do have to say that a healthy mix of Disney and real is good for us. Right now the Disney Princesses are teaching us lessons and while yes, they are all gorgeous ladies, they do come from various backgrounds and teach different lessons. Between Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and now Merida I think there are some examples of strong women who work hard, have big dreams beyond marriage and care deeply about their communities and their culture. It is all balance, and I am glad that it is working!

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