Obsession With Beauty

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Social Media has its pros and cons no doubt. One of the best things about it though is what it manages to teach when you are least expecting. Why just a couple of days back it taught me, rather reminded me about how as a mother I should never obsess about ‘beauty’. Yes, beauty as is preached through the glossy magazines and the silver screen. The obsession with beauty so to speak.

 

Here’s what happened.

 

I chanced upon a conversation between two rather young mothers about the appearance and dressing sense of their kids. They chatted about how it’s important to dress their children according to the changing trends. Then moved onto how worried they were about their girls not having the perfect smiles. How it is difficult to find fashionable clothes for their kids.

 

The conversation wasn’t about the mental and physical well-being, reading habits or education. It wasn’t about teaching them empathy or love. It was about something which on the surface seemed like a harmless conversation. After all what could possibly be wrong about two mothers discussing how their kids dress or look? But somehow it wasn’t or at least it didn’t sound right to me. Hear me out and you’ll probably see what scared me.

 

It might sound like I’m judging those women for a harmless conversation. And you know what, maybe I am. But their conversation reminded me of self-image issues in girls. And it wasn’t a comforting thought. Why do girls have to inherit this legacy of having to look good, this insecurity?

 

Now, it’s no secret that I have gapped teeth. Yes, teeth which don’t conform to the traditional beauty myth. But never in my life have I felt inadequate because of this. Do you know the reason why? Because I don’t recall even one instance when my mother or my parents made a fuss about my teeth. They were probably never worried that not having the perfect smile would hold me back or stop me from doing what I want to do or being who I want to be.

 

We should aim to make our kids well-rounded individuals not just well-dressed. #Parenting #Motherhood Click To Tweet

 

But had this been a cause for concern to my mother or if she had made it known to me, knowingly or unknowingly, I would have always been uncomfortable with my teeth, with myself. She didn’t and perhaps that’s why even now I don’t obsess on how I look.

 

The real challenge of being a mother, a parent to a girl is not in picking the right dress for her but in ensuring she is safe and has the freedom to be who she wants to be.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I do love to dress well when I have the energy. But I know there are far more important things in life than how I look or what I wear. Knowledge, compassion, books, what kind of a person I am and what I’m doing with my life are things that worry me. So, when I read the conversation between those two mothers, I promised myself to be the sort of mother that my mom has been to me.

 

I need to teach M that while dressing well is a good quality to have or while looking beautiful feels good, there are far more important things in life than that. And most importantly beauty has nothing to do with a perfect set of teeth or fashionable clothes. If I can do just that then perhaps I’ll be at least a fraction of the kind of mother my mom is. And I’ll be able to give M a solid foundation for life. After all, we should aim to make our kids well-rounded individuals not just well-dressed. That’s the real challenge of being a mother, a parent.

What do you think?

 

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22 thoughts on “Obsession With Beauty

  1. Well, our own obsession with looks and beauty gets transferred to the next gen. Sadly! When I see little girls with makeup, nail polish and discussing body hair etc. it freaks me out. A few months back, a lady was telling me that her 12-year-old daughter wanted her hair to be straightened. The parlour lady told her that she was too young. So the mum goes to another parlor. So that’s how it is. This lady was bragging to me. I didn’t know what to say!

  2. I dont’t know if you are aware of the myth that Gapped teeth bring good luck. a friends of mine in school had gapped teeth. I dont know and believe what luck or ill-luck physical features bring to a person beside talent and hardwork.

  3. I agree that too much emphasis is placed on physical appearance, rather than on other qualities, such as kindness and creativity. It would be nice if that were changed.

  4. As parents, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to raise self-confident children and the trend you have mentioned about parents’ obsession with their kids’ outer appearances is frightening. I really like how you have put it across: well-rounded not just well-dressed.

  5. My first reaction after reading about those 2 mothers was – Do such parents exist? Really, in this age when there is so much explosion of articles and material around this topic? But then I guess may be I am too much of a recluse or mingle and interact with like-minded people. A perfect set of teeth is good to have to avoid dental problems in future with no food bits sticking out in the gaps and causing decay and damage rather than just a perfect smile. And this applies to both boys and girls.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…New beginning beckons #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  6. Well said, Nabanita. The obsession with beauty is quite noticeable these days and I have also marked how “looking good” has now become a parameter for judging how smart someone is, be it a boy or a girl. Consequently, I see how little girls are getting obsessed about wearing certain kinds of clothes and talking in a certain way or behaving with certain mannerisms—all so that they look a certain kind and anybody not conforming to that standard is laughed upon. It is so sad and shocking to me that instead of teaching the right values, moms are teaching their daughters stuff that should not be their priority at all. I guess its the bane of the age we live in, with so much superficiality around what else can you expect?

  7. I find this ridiculous to say the least. I have close friends who first frowned that they had a baby girl. Then they frowned that the baby was dark. Then they frowned that the baby did not have much hair. This went on and on and on. What parents don’t realize is that these kids carry their own genes and if something is faulty it is them. I feel so sad when parents complain about their kids and the kids grow up succumbing to this prejudice.

    I had a young cousin who was born pretty dark, thanks to dark parents. But her parents used to apply fair and lovely all over her body and let it soak overnight. Trust me, this is a true story :/
    Soumya recently posted…Book Review: Into The WaterMy Profile

  8. I think it’s so difficult to be a child today, growing up with all the social media and pressures. I agree, parenting should be more about raising strong, independent, kind children. But I also understand where this need to conform and meet expectation has come from. It’s very tricky #MG
    Lins @ Boo & Maddie recently posted…Monday Catch-Up #93My Profile

  9. I couldn’t agree more. I too have gapped teeth in the front but that never mattered. Times have changed and parents have now become more conscious of appearances. I find this strange since education and generation change should have meant people get more concerned about thoughts and brains vs beauty and looks. As always, a good post, Naba.

  10. What really stuck out to me was “rather young mothers”. I think that has something to do with it. Not that younger mothers are better than older mothers or vice versa. It’s just that, as an older mother, I find myself always reading posts in various mothers’ groups where young women are freaking out over every little detail of motherhood– including what the kids wear. Priorities change as you get older. I want to just yell at them sometimes just so they can save themselves from stress: “Snap out of it! In a few years, you’ll see how idiotic this sounds!”
    Lori Shandle-Fox recently posted…Labor Day Pains for the Labor Pain-lessMy Profile

  11. There are countless parents who are guilty of doing what those two mothers did. Stressing over what their kids should wear and how their kids should look. They hardly give any attention to how their kids should behave, or the kind of human beings they should turn out to be, or how they should make their kids better individuals with an identity of their own. And, with the kind of pressure social media and society puts on them, I don’t see things improving for the innocent babies.
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…Give your mind a break.My Profile

  12. I think it’s difficult to chase an ever-changing ideal. It’s exhausting and expensive. There is no finish line. I try to be cognizant of not teaching those lessons to the next generation, though I know I slip from time to time.
    Mel recently posted…Do You Keep on Notifications?My Profile

  13. I completely agree with you Nabanita. I used to tell my little girls that if they preened in front of a mirror for long the mirror would crack. And they believed it! But the downside is that teaching a girl how to be well groomed is essential…. else they just become slobs.
    Bellybytes recently posted…The sun is out ? #WordlessWednesdayMy Profile

  14. Aww you sound absolutely fine and your mom sounds even better. I know how hard it is for women and girls to grow up. Personally I’ve never bothered much about my appearance. That’s also because I did not have the patience for any make up etc. Still don’t. But you’re right that girls should grow up thinking about things that matter. If NY daughter does grow up with those values, for her, it will be the best possible thing. Also, hard to judge a set of moms on one conversation. I know you didn’t, really but just saying maybe there is more to it than on the surface.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…10 years of blogging : 10 Things I’ve learntMy Profile

  15. Oh I agree whole heartedly. This obsession with dressing up and physicality gets to me. While we all like to dress up our children there has to be a limit to it. There’s a line between being appropriately dressed and being obsessed about it. While the first is important the second may actually be harmful. I am so glad you have a cool head on your shoulders.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…The Gratitude road to HappinessMy Profile

  16. There is no doubt some parents seem to have the ideas for raising kids around the wrong way! Let’s empower our girls to be unique and intelligent rather than simply pretty! #mg

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