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BEAUTY CAPTURES YOUR ATTENTION, PERSONALITY CAPTURES YOUR HEART
How many gazillion posts can I start writing with no clue as to what I'm going to write about, limping solely along on the determination to post something or die trying? 1703 apparently, as of this one.

My daughter has been, for whatever reason, lamenting the fact that she is THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD with an outie bellybutton. I'm not sure exactly how this bit of information has suddenly come to the forefront of her consciousness. Comparison tests in the locker room while changing for gympa? She is the only person in our family, at least, but I hardly think that warrants wailing and despair at her extreme other-ness. To stem the angst, I promised I would conduct a poll of my friends and acquaintances online so I'm asking you: innie or outie?

Her outie is, I think, the result of a rather botched umbilical tie-off, but I think it's cute. It's a little button in the middle of her darling little tummy. She seems to be fixating more and more on her appearance lately, something I keep trying, with a rather decided lack of success, to head off at the pass. Her feet are "ugly", her hair is "bushy", she's "not cute". When I ask where she is hearing this, who she is hearing it from, her answers are evasive. She's certainly not hearing it from us, and frankly, I don't think that it can all be credited to sibling affection in the form of regular teasing from her brother.

It's weird to me, because she's so very much a tomboy in so many ways, that this very feminine affliction would be bothering her at the relatively tender age of nine and a half. Isn't that early for self-image introspection? Are they really growing up THAT fast? It's scary to think that she's already aware of the way she looks and that it CONCERNS her. I know things start young nowadays, but I was hoping we had a few more years leeway.

Her emotions swing from the wildest high to a crashing low, one moment to the next. It's never dull around her, that's for sure. Giving her a compliment can send her spiraling with joy and an off-hand, teasing comment can be completely misconstrued and agonized over to the point of tears. This tough kid of mine has paper-thin skin apparently, and she's already learning about what gets through it. She's weighing and measuring and considering every angle and aspect of her revelation of self. Comparison is just a part of that process, but it's a scarily important part that can have repercussions for years, depending upon which side she comes down on herself.

As someone who has never considered herself much of a beauty, and who frankly, hasn't given much of a hoot EVER for make-up or hairstyles (no need with Barky on the job!), I'm not at all sure I'm equipped to deal with this beyond frequent and honest applications of love and affirmation. What your MOM thinks of how you look, when you're young, has no bearing on reality. It's just your MOM and she's biased, right? Of course she's beautiful to me, she thinks, I HAVE to say that. But my lord, it's true. She's so beautiful! When beauty is blossoming in a healthy glow and crackling energy and funny faces and a boundless capacity for affection, how could I NOT think she was beautiful? How could anyone, including her, ever think otherwise?



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Comments

I'm the mother of an outtie and he's also wondered why no one else has a belly button like him. I told him that while it's uncommon, it's not out of the ordinary and that he's lucky to have something that most people don't.

There is a lot of information out there about building up girls' self-esteem. I don't think K has *bad* self-esteem, she's just starting to think more about herself in comparison with her peers. First of all, I have no idea what her perception and definition of "cute" is but I think even without her spunk, she's definitely cute.

Everyone has something about them that they aren't thrilled with, I guess she's going to have to decide how much she's going to let it bother her. Even people she might term "cuter" have something they'd change about themselves. I think letting her know her dissatisfaction is normal but that there isn't anything wrong or ugly about her. Does she have a friend who worries about her looks?

I was a tomboy too and I didn't start to care how I looked until about 7th grade. It was when I overheard the boys making comments about the girls and I realized that I was being evaluated. I've heard that parents and teachers are (usually) more likely to comment on what a girl is wearing or how she looks and with boys on what they know and how they perform. So without meaning to, we start to look at the boys' achievement and the girls' appearance. I can't control what people focus on when they talk to my kids and I can only hope that my not commenting too much on looks will somehow override what others do. Like you say though, I'm just the mom.

When I think of Karen, her energy is so vivid through your description. Although I've never met her I feel like I've heard her laugh, seen her run and jump, and felt how she attacks life full throttle. Those are the children that brings smiles to our faces and warm our hearts. Besides, we bushy-haired girls have more fun. ;-)

I agree with you that Karin doesn't have "bad" self-esteem...I'm more surprised that it's an issue for her at this point at all. I wasn't a tomboy but it was about 7th grade for me, too.

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