What if the first thing we said to a little girl wasn't how cute she looks or how pretty she is? What if it wasn't about her appearance? Would she believe her intelligence, personality, whit...held more stock in the bank of her self worth, if we ask what her favorite book is or if she will tell us a joke or what the best part of her day has been?
The first thing I say to a little girl is something I have been trying to be more aware of the last couple years. It's darn hard.
They are cute, with their freckles, and dimples, and miniature shoes. Gushing over their adorableness is my first reaction. They are so much more than the sum of these parts though. They are vessels of infinite possibility and potential...they are beautiful women waiting to unfold. Beautiful in every way, not simply the external. Now I think the human body is to be celebrated in all its nuances -- striving toward self acceptance, non-competition, and a kind body image are worthy focuses -- but women are also so much more than our looks.
We talk a lot about body image in the blog world. How we approach young girls is an everyday way we can have profound, real-world effects. Watch how we speak to little girls. Watch how speak to other women. The efforts we make with young girls are meaningless if they still hear "girl talk". It is absolutely wonderful to receive a compliment about our hair or smile or choice of clothing, not to mention these being easy icebreakers. Often though, there is a more authentic, deeper connection waiting when we first ask about her new proposal at work or she comments about a shared love for a favorite author after noticing your current read.
Maybe young girls and women alike will remember we are so much more than the sum of our external parts.
(I am sure there is a young male counterpart to this. I'm just not sure what it is.)
I'd love to hear your thoughts and observations.