Did I just teach a child self hate?
Okay, I might be overreacting……it all began as I walked through the front door of my Bro in law’s house. Snowflakes adorned the walls, blue and silver twinkled from all corners……..winter is coming.
Rather, the house was Elsa-fied in honor of my neice’s Frozen themed fifth birthday.
Balancing Pepper on my knee atop bar style chairs as watermelon juice ran down her chin and into my lap. I multitasked and wiped Pep’s face and rationed snacks and attemoted to contribute to the conversation. Birthday girl’s older sister pulled up a chair and joined in.
Sis just had her own birthday party, a ninja turtles bash. She’s a girl who wants to play and get dirty, who has no time for the book work of kindergarten, who gives exactly no shits about what six year old girls are about. She is who she wants to be.
The ladies began chatting about hairstyles, remarking on one little girl’s rad pixie cut with one side buzzcut short. She chose her own style and loves it. I mention that I’ve always wanted to cut my hair that short, but I don’t think I could pull it off as my head is monstrously large.
And suddenly I had set off a wave of women comparing the things they hate about themselves.
And I caught big sis’s eyes, following the conversation around the room, and taking it all in. The look on her face instantly struck me as that of a child who never considered not doing something because of the way she looked. Who never cared what people thought of her hair. Who never once thought that people would or should inhibit themselves and their happiness because they feel bad about themselves.
Who never thought that women dislike how they look. Who never thought that this how women interact, by picking out their faults and comparing them. Who watched us all reinforce eachother’s behaviour by smiling and nodding and relating to the next woman’s insecurity.
Who maybe just learned that she’s not supposed to like herself.
Who may have just had life long seeds of doubt planted into her innocent little mind.
Who is absorbing more than we realize.
who might be my own child in a few years.
I don’t know how to teach myself self love, let alone teach a child. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin, and it’s really only since being pregnant that I’ve at the very least cared less what other people thought. But on bad days, tired and grumpy days, I can be found muttering to myslef in the mirror as I struggle to wrangle my hair into something resembling a style. I can be heard to grumble, ‘I look disgusting/fat/gross/ugly. ‘
I don’t lnow how to love myself more, but I think I need to learn. And the first step is to keep my insecurities under wraps, to rise above them and not give them any of my coveted energy.
I know that self love is a valuable attribute, but can it ever really be unconditional?
“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
― Madeleine L’Engle