Part 5: The Future
There are two things I can learn from my experiences. I can learn how to think healthier about eating and my body image (over time, that has definitely happened, and I think it will only get better). I can learn how to pass the wisdom from these experiences on to my future potential daughter, because maybe she'll learn from my mistakes.
How do we raise our daughters today? How do we raise them to think healthy thoughts about eating, about sex, about their gender? It seems almost impossible. I sort of understand why some fundamentalist religious people homeschool their children. There's so many people out there in the world waiting to undo all the education you've done. Of course, I want my children to be exposed to different viewpoints, and I feel confident that if I do my job right, no matter what anyone says or tells them to feel, they will feel good about who they are and what they look like no matter what. It's just a little scary.
I read an interesting article once (that I'm having serious trouble finding, else I'd post it here) written by a women who considered herself a feminist and was trying to raise her daughter with the mindset I'm describing. However, she found that to be incredibly difficult, especially when one morning she took her daughter with her while she went to get her eyebrows waxed.
"Why, mommy, what's wrong with your eyebrows?"
Dammit. It wouldn't even have occurred to me. Now the little girl is going to go home and start looking for flaws in HER eyebrows. How do you explain some of this stuff to your children? You think you're the epitome of healthy thinking and feminist attitudes, and then you're 3-year-old child, of all people, is the first to point out your inconsistencies.
Honestly, I don't have a problem with makeup, with plastic surgery, with fashion, with any of that. Despite the fact that it all thrives on women feeling bad about themselves, I don't think that's necessarily where it needs to come from. For me, I just like controlling how I look. It becomes an expression for me, an outlook of artistic energy. And yes, sometimes I like my eyebrows to look different. Not because I think they're ugly, but because I'd like them to be different.
But is that something you can teach?
My hope is that my daughter keeps herself healthy. Given the medical history she's going to have just from my side, it will do her a world of good. My hope is that she always knows she's beautiful, and never obsesses about trying to look like anyone else. I hope she enjoys her body as a palette for whatever it is she wants to do: dye her hair, get tattoos, piercings, buy fashionable (or unfashionable) clothing. I hope she doesn't do it to fit in or to please other people's desires. I hope she does it because she wants to and likes the way she looks afterwards.
I just hope she loves herself.