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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