by Eva St. Clair, co-founder of Princess Awesome
“Yuck. I’m so fat.”
My daughter was standing in front of my big full-length mirror, patting her tummy and turning side to side. Her other hand was on her hip, and she was scowling at herself in the mirror. As her mother and a 37-year-old American woman, I knew at some point body issues would come up and we’d have to work through them. I just didn’t think they’d come up this early.
She was 2 years old.
Body image concerns start a lot earlier than most parents think. In fact, even preschoolers understand that people tend to judge others by their appearance. Sadly unless they learn otherwise, these early ideas can last a lifetime. That bears repeating: The messages girls internalize when they’re young can stick with them as they grow.
-Katie Hurley, No More Mean Girls
How many times do conversations with girls start out with some variation of “How pretty you look today”? Anecdotally, I’d say upwards of 60% of my daughter’s conversations with adults begin with comments on what she is wearing. Day after day, week after week, girls hear comments about their appearance, many of which start from what they’re wearing. As Katie Hurley emphasizes, girls internalize this messaging and it becomes the ruler by which they judge themselves and others.
What if they heard a different conversation? What if, instead of hearing about how they look, adults asked them questions about their interests? That’s actually something that happens when girls wear clothes that send messages about who they are instead of how they look.
Clothes Without Limits is dedicated to expanding the choices in clothing offered to children. We are a group of companies – each with a different style and perspective. And we’ve all heard the same feedback about what happens when kids wear our products:
“I love the science and math themed clothing for girls because it helps change the stereotypes of adults. When my daughter wears her molecular orbital dress or rocket dress, adults communicate with her differently. Instead of calling her a princess or cute, the conversation expands to rockets and then my daughter talks about the moon and Jupiter.”
–Princess Awesome customer
Yes, there are many factors that go into how girls perceive themselves, and we can’t solve all the problems of “girl culture” with dinosaur dresses. But giving children the option to dress in a piece that reflects who they are strongly supports a sense of self-worth based on personality and interest while changing the echo chamber too.
What about those other factors that harm girls internally? Katie Hurley’s No More Mean Girls is filled with resources to help guide parents through raising confident and compassionate girls. It’s not enough to tell our daughters to “just deal with it” or “everyone goes through this.” And it’s not acceptable! Our girls deserve better. Read No More Mean Girls. Help your daughter have a girlhood filled with friendships that are rewarding and fulfilling. Because together, girls can!