Earlier this week, I saw the tweets about the new Dove Real Beauty videos and decided to skip out on the conversation. I can't believe we're still putting so much of our collective energy into convincing women that they are beautiful, as if it matters. One of my team members thought it'd be a good idea to show our students the latest video. They're trying to send a positive message: "you're not as ugly as you think." But I want to know, does it matter?
You'd imagine that middle schoolers think about their looks all day, and maybe some of them do, but from what I have seen they only care about what they think adults care about. Maybe little girls are so obsessed with being beautiful because we say things like, "YOU NEED TO KNOW YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!"
And when they don't feel it (still not sure of what It is), they go searching down the endless rabbit hole for beauty products, push-up bras, and unsolicited (but still loved) negative attention from boys. We, adults, have allowed (physical) beauty to hang around on our list of societal values. We allow it to be relative. For the young people who want to do nothing but grow up a little bit faster, they focus all of their attention on it because it seems so important. I wonder what would happen if we stopped talking about it? If we erased it from our daily conversations (i.e. She has the perfect nose! She is just so stunning! Her body is to die for!), what would happen? What could happen?
What if being beautiful didn't matter? What if we spent our time talking to our girls about the good and cool things they do, by the company they choose to keep, and the positive impact they have on their tiny world?
I'd rather tell (my) girls that they're kind and smart. Or that I love how they take the time to get the math problem right even when it's hard. Or that I like the way they wrote their name in chalk on the sidewalk in bubble letters. Or listen to them talk about the social studies teacher that they just can't stand and then encourage them to still get their homework done. I'd rather talk to (my) girls about how brave they were when they had the courage to tell an adult that their BFF was self-harming. I'd rather show them that girls can feel, think, and do so much more than to feel, think about, or do something about their doggone beauty.
And yet, before they leave everyday, I like to give them a hug and call them Angel Face. There is nothing more heaven sent than a little girl with the big dreams, the kindness, and the power to make the world better. This is what I want them to know, feel, and do something about.