This is a bit of an Auntie Rant as I witnessed an older lady pinch the belly of a young girl and tell her she was getting pudgy. Can you believe that? The girl couldn’t have been anymore than five or six years old as she was in the grocery cart and the lady appeared to be part of the family group… Granny perhaps? Mean Auntie? idk. Ugh.
I wanted to go over and punch her! The Granny…not the little girl. But I thought better of it and watched from a distance. While the little girl seemed no worse for the wear, the words and feelings were now embedded into her tiny being for life and this made me so mad–and sad.
She shouldn’t have to carry around someone else’s crap judgement. Even at that young age the message is clear that her body is not right in some way.
When I was a little girl, I was called “husky”. Like what the hell does that even mean? I now look back on pictures and see I was a normal girl who had a label slapped on me early in life and it still resounds today. THAT is how powerful those words are.
When You’re Talking to Young Girls..DO NOT
1. Do not call a young girl fat, big boned, husky, chubby, pudgy, or any other slur that refers to weight. This is totally unacceptable and is internalized for years to come which affects who she becomes or what she thinks of herself.
I don’t care if the girl is 2 years old or 15 years old. Not acceptable. Got that?
2. Do not tell little girls how pretty they are! Or how cute! Or beautiful! These things are superficial and do not, and should not, define anyone’s path. I know a young women who grew up and received a lot of attention for her looks and I wonder who she would have been had she received a different, perhaps more compelling message as she was growing up. The focus on the external demonstrates a certain shallowness in that it is not a trait, or condition of life, that she could control.
Things like clothing, body type, hair styles, and facial features don’t make a difference in the person that she’ll become. Why not tell her she’s capable? or strong? or compassionate?
Time to change it up people.
3. Off the cuff remarks about mensuration, cycles, moods, tampons, pads, and anything else in this line are OFF limits. It’s none of your business. This is a natural human function and not one to be made fun of, create embarrassment, shame, belittling.
Way back in the day they sold sanitary napkins behind the drug-store counter wrapped in brown paper. This was way before my time but in that era, it meant having to ask for product and then carry home a secret package. How stupid was that? Who made up those rules?
I remember being asked once if I was “on the rag”. I had no idea what it meant and it was a boy who asked. He laughed and for whatever reason, there seemed to be shame around the subject. We need to do better with the boys understanding of bodily functions too.
ALSO It is NOT okay to ask a girl/woman if she’s PMS’ing or acting like a bitch because she’s on her period. Get over yourself and grow up.
4. Do not even think about commenting on a girls changing body. That includes budding breasts, her cleavage or lack thereof, her butt, her crotch, belly, or ANY OTHER PART. They are not yours to comment about and believe me when I say–back off.
I don’t care whether you’re Granny who notices a growth spurt and blurts out something about boobs or someone asking about pubic hair. Not acceptable. The teen years are hard enough–they don’t need to be made to feel uncomfortable or judged.
If you have comments, keep them to yourself unless the subject is brought up by the girl.
5. Do not attach labels. A girl who plays, runs, competes, gets dirty, doesn’t like nail polish is NOT a dyke or a tom-boy or any lesser female. She is doing what she enjoys. She should be encouraged to seek out physical activities if that’s what she likes.
Get rid of the notion of a little princess in a fluffy dress as being the “perfect” girl. This is a box that no longer should exist. If a girl loves frills and sparkle that’s fine but it needs to go further than the surface.
When you have a girl in your life…DO
1. TEACH her how to use a hammer and a screwdriver. When she’s old enough, let her have a chance at the electric drill to build something.
She may also want to add sparkles to the project and that’s okay. By teaching her how to use tools, she is building independence in knowing she can do anything.
2. Buy her a toy truck to go with her dolly and a stethescope too. Step away from the stereotypes of what toys or books a girl should enjoy. Let her choose for herself as you build her confidence and self awareness.
3. EDUCATE and explore options that have nothing to do with gender or limitations. Let her know that she can be an astronaut, and entrepreneur, or a mommy. All are perfectly lovely especially if she has options.
4. Let her know that her body is her own. No one has the right to touch it, or belittle it, in any way. Her body is hers to keep, to give, or adorn as she sees fit. Teach her that she is not here to serve a man (or any other partner she may choose) or put up with comments about being lesser than or “just” a girl. Drill into her that No Means No and she has every right to fight to defend herself.
5. Do let the girl in your life know that she has special SUPER POWERS. She is powerful from the tip of her head to the end of her big toe. There’s no such thing as being a cry baby, throwing like a “girl”, being too prissy, or emotional…
Emotions mean you’re alive and open to the world. They allow for conversation and communications beyond the mundane. Believing in one’s deep powers of sharing, caring, and being will take you to the ends of the earth and back.
Girl power is a real thing.
Auntie Lesson: It’s time to stop looking at the outside package and realize how strong and resilient girls are. Each is individual in her mind and spirit and we must respect the role they choose. Please know too that this post was written with the notion of any person who identifies as female.
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