Friday, September 14, 2012


Body image. Two words that are bandied around a lot in magazines, on the news, on parenting blogs. And, two words, that as a mom raising two girls in this culture, give me some of my greatest parental anxiety.

Every single woman I know has been knocked down once or twice by the pain of not feeling adequate. Of wishing her thighs were thinner, her skin had fewer freckles, her hair was straighter ... oh wait, is that just me? Well, to each her own issues.

But, raising two girls in this world has me yearning for them to escape unscathed. Untouched by the pressure to be stick thin, to have shampoo-commercial-ready hair, to be exactly like everyone else. I don't want them to feel inadequate. I want them to grow up feeling strong and powerful and proud of what God and I gave them. Hey, I grew them in my belly for 9 months, I figure I get some credit.

So, since the day they were born, I have been telling each one that they are perfect just the way they are. That they are beautiful because of who they are. I have told them that it is what is in their hearts that matters and that they have beautiful hearts. I emphasize being strong, having muscles, being able to run, and eating healthy food because it will make you stronger, faster and smarter. I never say "diet" and I never talk negatively about myself because I know girls imitate and get a lot of their views from their mother. I try to not always talk about how cute they look and try to focus on what they can do. (That is a lot harder than it sounds, by the way.) I've written a couple times about these issues before here and here.

I have tried to do everything every parenting book/article/blog post says. I have tried my hardest to combat the culture of "not being good enough." And, two weeks ago, I had my heart broken.

I was on the Facebook on my computer, and Molly was looking over my shoulder. There was a girl's picture on a posting from a photographer. I didn't know this girl and neither did Molly.

"Mom, who is that?"
"I don't know, honey. A girl who got her picture taken by a photographer."
"Is she prettier than me?"
My heart stopped. Surely I'd hear her wrong. "Is she bigger than you? Is that what you said?"
"No. Is she prettier than me?"

Seriously. I think I felt my heart breaking. How could my precious little girl possibly be comparing her beauty to anyone else? How could this already be happening at 5?

I quickly said that Molly was beautiful and this girl was beautiful. That everyone was beautiful and pretty because of who they are. "You are beautiful because you are Molly. There is no "prettier" than anyone else. There's no comparing." I just didn't see it coming. I didn't think it would happen that soon. I wasn't ready to talk about it. I didn't have a speech prepared.

Ugh. So, fast forward two weeks. I wrote a post about needing better kids' music to listen to in the car.  I got a lot of good suggestions, and when I saw the Best of Laurie Bernker Band's CD at Target, I picked it up. Turns out, it's great. I love it. I have been singing along with it. The girls are starting to really get into it. Then comes the song, "I'm not perfect." It's all about it not being perfect, trying your hardest and being ok with that.

I didn't think anything about it. It's catchy. I'm singing. And, Molly says, "What does it mean I'm not perfect?"

Yeah, remember back when I said that I've always told the girls that they are perfect just the way they are? Well ... um, crap.

So, now, I am trying to explain to Molly that it just means that it's ok to make mistakes, that everyone makes mistakes and that's what makes everyone unique and special and everyone's perfect in their imperfection and nobody can be perfect all the time, but you're perfect because you're you, but perfection doesn't matter if you try your hardest, but ... And, really, now I'm just babbling because that came completely out of left field for me.

Again, I didn't see it coming, and I didn't have time to prepare. Parenting. It'll do that to you, I guess.

If there is some secret formula for raising girls to be confident and strong and know that their brains and hearts matter more than anything on the outside, I'm happy to hear it. Please? Anyone?

I guess, as it is, I'll keep trudging along, babbling incoherent statements about beauty and perfection in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of societal pressure. Whew. That sounds like a lot of work. Oh, parenthood, you wily devil. Just when I thought you were getting easier because the girls are sleeping through the night, you throw this at me.

Oh, and now? Whenever the first words of "I'm not perfect" come on? Charlotte says, "I not perfect anymore, Mommy? Why I not perfect anymore?" No offense to Laurie Berkner, but I've just started skipping that track.

Tell me these girls aren't perfect? Or at least perfect in their imperfection? Oh, who knows.


  1. Those 2 beautiful (inside & out because their beautiful hearts shine through) are perfect the way they are......they are the perfect Molly Lafferty & perfect Charlotte Lafferty!!!!!