Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Question of Beauty

I love how much my oldest daughter can find the beauty and reason to compliment everyone. I never taught her this, but she instinctively finds something on someone to admire. From the baseball hat they're wearing to their earrings. She sees the beauty in everyone. It's always been something I admire about her.

Until the day we were passing a not-so-nice neighborhood with one of those big billboards promoting a gentlemen's club. With a picture of a woman dressed more like Penthouse than Playboy. And my ever-so-complimentary daughter said, "she's pretty!" I was horrified (and thankful she couldn't see my face).

I opened my mouth to try and stop the admiration, but I stopped myself. Is it right to teach her to judge this woman harshly?

In my version of feminism, we all stick together. In my version, the "mommy wars" should cease. Women in the workplace should support and encourage each other to break the glass ceilings together. I don't care if you bottle or breast-feed, I trust you to make the right decision for you and your baby. And if a woman truly chooses to work in a field where her body is considered an asset, so long as she's not being harmed, forced or coerced, it's her life and her choice.

At the same time, I certainly don't want that for MY daughter. I want her to use her mind to get ahead in the world, and yet enjoy being a woman - when the time comes. I don't want her to emulate that sort of attire or lifestyle. I want her to know that she is beautiful so long as she is healthy and kind to others.

But there's that dilemma: how do I teach her to be kind to others and still want better for herself?

Luckily, we were on a freeway, and in the time that all of this was going through my head, the girls had moved on to an entirely different conversation, and the moment passed. Did I let it slip away? I don't know. Maybe I'm just not ready for her to turn judgmental. Maybe it's better that I kept that judgment to myself.

Originally posted on LA Moms, January 7, 2009.

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