Are millennial parents a product of hypocritical decisions? Or are we blissfully unaware of our actions that are rooted in hypocrisy? Ask yourself. Let me explain.
I was revisiting moral sciences notes with my little girl where I taught her why honesty is the best policy, practice makes perfect and all the other humdrum lines we grew up listening to. "Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder", I said in a mighty and confident tone only to watch my daughter's wide eyes open wider. "What does it mean, ma?" she asked.
I started off the usual preaching on why she mustn't fall prey to society's definition of beauty and why it is only skin deep and what's inside really counts. I was doing well, I could sense as she sat listening in rapt attention. We soon wrapped the talk and as I got up to clean her room, something struck me.
Her doll collection boasted of all fair-skinned, flawless and size-zero dolls flaunting the most fashionable dresses. The books on her shelf were all the usual- Disney princesses, and sweet little girls who did all those cutesy things in their everyday lives. What was I looking at?!
I taught her it is okay to be flawed, it is okay to have imperfections (all the books I read on the Wabi-sabi philosophy came in handy) and what matters is accepting us for who we are. But how will she learn to accept when all that she sees around is spotless, flawless and a 100% perfect world? I will give you a minute to pause and look around your child's books and toy shelf too.
Are we missing the bigger picture?
I recently read an article on how this concept of being "perfect" and "flawlessly beautiful" has been silently passed on across generations even through the most innocent channel of them all- children's nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Right from Chubby Cheeks, Dimple Chin…Curly Hair, Very Fair to Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who's The Fairest Of Them All, to the Prince falling for Cindrella just by seeing her beauty at the ball that night- our childhood stories were riddled with sexist and biased narratives that make us wonder if we are feeding our children a steady diet of intolerance and prejudice too.
Feeling miserable already? Welcome to that odd feeling I have had lately! I picked myself us and decided to action certain things. Sharing here so it helps fellow moms too.
Stop complimenting your kids for their looks.
Especially colour. STOP! If you have that annoying aunt who goes a step further and compares the skin tone of your children, bite the bullet and give her a befitting reply. Tough as it may sound- your kids will be watching and will learn a lesson.
Don't go overboard about your perception of beauty too:
It's simple. Monkey see. Monkey do. If you are about discussing fairness creams to look radiant in your Diwali party and for the big holiday, your kids are going to take that as a cue. "Fair mamma is happy mamma"- they will perceive. Do we really want that?!
Give them the right exposure:
Throw in books on diverse cultures, people and even those with different abilities and powers. We have a whole list of reccos on KSP Book Club here. Show your kids superheroes come in all forms and don't always wear capes!
Watch what you say:
Even if we don't intend to, we sometimes blurt out the wrong words. And that ends up leaving a scar. Reminded of Masaba Gupta's interview with Kidsstoppress where she says people used to address her as "Kaali" when she was a child! Ask yourself if you pass comments on celebrities or movie stars when your kids are around- it is time you stopped doing that.
Teach them what matters:
Once you have established that beauty is skin deep, teach your kids what true beauty is. What it means to be kind, empathetic, polite and respectful to people around us. We simply loved this new ad by Mamaearth that drives home the message of #BeautifulInDeed. We love how the mom explains the concept of true beauty without sounding preachy or pedantic. And the joy in the child's eyes at the end, totally worth it!
So, tell us in the comments what your perception of true beauty is and how you would like to teach your kids about being truly "beautiful"?!