Se faire belle
My SIL and her children stayed with us for a very hectic five days (the amount of noise and mess two small kids can produce is really quite incredible). My niece is at the age though where everything princess rules. Pink dresses, tutus, crowns, wands - you name it, she loves it.
Her mother and grandmother are very earthy and don't really bother with external appearances at all, so whenever she comes to see us, she is always extremely interested in my make-up products, nail polish, etc. She would sit quietly with me every morning while I got ready, just watching me, and sometimes asking questions about what I was doing or using.
Her main question though was Why? Why are you putting on makeup? Why are you doing your hair? Why do you paint your nails? My immediate answer was "pour me faire belle", or to make myself beautiful, but then I thought - what on Earth kind of message is that sending to a young girl? I certainly didn't want her to think that a woman needed to put on makeup in order to be beautiful, but then how do you explain to a 3-4 year old that you can put on makeup to feel better for yourself, and not just for others? Or trying to delicately answer that I used mascara to darken my eyelashes without making it seem like it was bad if you didn't do that, especially since her mother doesn't. But it still didn't stop her from asking "Can I wear makeup? Can you do my hair? Can you paint my nails pink?"
The whole time she was here, I kept thinking back to an article I read some time ago that brought up the different vocabulary used with boys and girls. Boys are often told they are strong and smart while girls are told they are pretty or good. And it's something I've been very conscious about ever since. I mean, it's true - it must be so much more difficult to motivate girls to excel in academics or sports if they are mainly lauded for their looks or how they act. Even as an adult, I'm not really anything special but still most of the compliments I get tend to be more looks-related and not accomplishment-related. But luckily I have some pretty great girlfriends and blog readers who also recognize how hard I've worked. ;)
Anyways, I know a lot of you out there currently have or have raised girls, so I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts on this and how you dealt or have dealt with these sorts of questions.
Labels: Family Dynamics