3/2/13

Esteem

I understand why most people, why most adults, tend to overlook Josephine when they are with all my girls. She is a bit stand-offish, and doesn't understand why society expects her to engage. She's always had a miniature adult body, none of the baby proportions that endear adults to little ones, that make them want to squish their cheeks. No knuckles-pits or chubby legs. She has always had a grown-up face, just small proportions.
She cries a lot, she is demanding. She is obsessive. People rarely recognize it when she invites them into her world. She can be so obnoxious when she's having a fit, her teacher told me her classmates will bring her monkeys whenever she even starts crying.
So, yeah, I get why her sisters get a lot more attention everywhere we go. Hazel and Millie are engaging and outgoing. But that doesn't mean that Jo doesn't feel it or see it when she gets overlooked. I've mentioned before how much praise Amelia gets for her long hair, dark eye lashes, her apple cheeks. What makes me angry is when others don't turn around and tell Jo how lovely she is. She is lovely, she has these long, white limbs and enviable, Lady Mary skin. I adore my Empress Josephine. But my compliments don't go that far. I can tell her all day long she is as beautiful as her sister, but eventually it becomes white noise, and all that effort undone when someone praises Amelia and totally ignores Jo.
Oy. It's hard raising girls to have good self esteem, especially when I feel like I'm fighting against all our culture and society. It requires vigilance to promote and find the good in the world that will benefit my girls, so much of media and society tries to tear down.

2 comments:

  1. People who don't recognize how beautiful and wonderful Josephine is are stupid and ridiculous. That sounds juvenile, but it's true! I love that monkey girl!

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  2. I'm sure this is all the more complicated by the twin-dynamic. It may be worth digging to get at the core of what she sees as the purpose or end goal of being pretty. On some level most little girls interpret beauty as power, and it may be worth trying to redirect some of that wiring. Whether my girl(s?) are pretty or not, I don't want them thinking that any measure of their potential or happiness relies on something outside of their control. How can you empower Jo in a way that doesn't involve hoping strangers will notice her unorthodox charms? (Most of which I relate to. All my baby's have had rather un-babylike proportions other than short stints at thunder thighs around 6 months old) Can she wow them with something else, (something she can actually control or cultivate), instead? Vocabulary, prowess, inquisitivity, fashion sense, kindness, pop culture knowledge or detailed observations? I suspect there are better ways to empower her than just assuring her that she's pretty.

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