Thursday, March 02, 2006

I downloaded the True You! Workbook from Campaign For Real Beauty. It's an activity book for mothers and daughters all about growing up, the changes that happen to our bodies, and how we feel about it all. She and I started working on it last night. After only two pages, my heart was heavy. The first section has several true/false questions. I encouraged her to fill them out honestly because there were no right or wrong answers. She believed that her family plays a big role in how she feels about herself, but also answered "true" to the media playing a big role in how she thinks she should look, that she was not happy with her body, and that she would change parts of her body if she could. I went into it expecting the responces, but it still hurt to see her fill in the little circle with a "T".
The second page was all about her. It had the basics such as name, age, grade. The second section was fill in the blank with the first one being "My friends tell me I look like..." She put "I'm ugly". The next was "I think I look..". She put "Bad". When it came to the section about what I think about her it was all possitive. She put things like, beautiful, smart, funny, creative, silly. Those are all things I say to her every day, but those aren't the things that are sticking with her. I knew that she felt this way about herself, but seeing her write it down made me so sad.
I heard a story once about self esteme being like a coins in a jar. Every day parents try to fill up the coin jar by saying nice things, encouraging their child, cheering them on, and showing them how much they are loved. In the story, as soon as the child gets on the school bus his coins start being taken away by kids who say mean things and adults who aren't invested in making sure the child has a bank full of self esteme. The point of the story was making sure that your child has enough self esteme in the jar to make it through the day and still have some left in the jar. My question is "How?" It seems that the negative voices are so much louder than my own. Her self esteme bank seems to always be in the red. I hope that going through this book together will help. I hope it will open the lines of communication so she feels safe to talk about things that are going on in her life. I hope that she will begin to she how special she is. I hope that eventually I can undo all the hurt that has been done.


Kristen said...

This age is hard even for someone who hasn't gone through all the things she has.

I think the best thing for me at that age was being friends with a variety of beautiful-inside-and-out women, women of different ethnicities (my two best friends in high school were Korean) and shapes and sizes and "intelligences." And a limited exposure to beauty magazines. :) And an environment that encouraged dressing modestly--since my value didn't come from my sexuality or beauty. That helped me so much.

Sandra said...

Yes, I agree 100%. Unfortunantly her school has children that come a wide variety of cultures and have different moral values. Some of the things the girls wear are scary! It feels like I'm trying to save a sinking ship with a thimble.

aola said...

That kind of pressure is everywhere but I just have to think it is probably worse in California. The need to be physically beautiful (and the makings of shallow people). Is it?? or am I just stereo-typing people from California?

Sandra said...

I think that may be the case in Southern California, but not here in the Bay Area so much. Here the focus is really on how much money you make. L.A. and San Fran are about 600 miles apart but they might as well be two different worlds.