Last night, after a post-dinner nap in the car (why did I let that happen?) both kids were miserable and whining, so I decided bath time just wasn’t going to happen. As I was getting Little Miss into her pajamas, she wouldn’t stop crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I want yellow hair like Rapunzel.”
You know, I have heard all the studies and stories, and news bits and Facebook posts about princesses and how bad they are for our daughters, but Little Miss found them, without our pushing it on her, and at a very young age. I figured, what are you going to do? She likes these princesses and their dresses, and I’m sure she will grow up to be a great, well-adjusted person either way.
I have also heard all the stories about girls who don’t fit that princess image. The ones who aren’t blonde, or have short hair, or like my daughter, are biracial. My kids are Indian, Italian, German and Slovak. Little Miss is tan, with curly light brown hair and green eyes. She doesn’t have a princess that looks anything like her.
She told me, “I don’t like the way I am. I look like a crazy person.” So yeah, that broke my heart a little, but it was a teachable moment.
“You are perfect,” I told her. “Everyone looks different and that’s what makes us special. Yellow hair is pretty, but so is brown, and black and red.”
The other thing here, obviously, is to remember that appearance cannot be the be all end all in how we feel about ourselves. She is so much more than just her beautiful face and her amazing eyes.
“I wouldn’t want any other girl as my daughter,” I told her. “You are awesome because you are a great singer and you are so good at swimming. And you are good at making cupcakes too!”
In the end, all of my grown up rational couldn’t help her four-year-old sadness about looking different from her favorite princess, but I realize it is a process to get your daughter to grow up loving herself, exactly the way she is.
I make a point to try to keep body-hating conversation out of her earshot (though it does slip now and then of course. I’m not perfect!) I tell her she is beautiful all the time and how proud I am of all of her accomplishments.
I feel like it is my goal as her mom to raise her with self-confidence and build her armor against the world of conventional beauty and its over-importance in our society.
Little Miss woke up this morning as if nothing had happened. She hasn’t talked about Rapunzel at all, though she did tell me that her hair looked crazy (skipping a bath will do that). I’ll let the topic drop for now, but I hope that if she brings it up again, I can help her realize there is so much more to beauty than appearance.