Whenever possible, probably because I have an agenda, I try to talk to my children about differences. The fact that every single person in the world is so very different, and yet so many standards of beauty are so cookie-cutter, is frustrating to me, especially since I have a string-bean little boy, and a little girl who is rapidly rounding out (which could also be the result of her obsession with treats, but I digress).
This morning I noticed my daughter, S, working away on a little design book she has — it’s a book her Oma gave her, which provides stencils of dresses which you can use to draw dresses overtop of the figures in the book to “dress” them, and then you can colour their outfits. She loves this book, especially lately. She calls it her “fashion,” and flounces around with it playing “fashion,” a game which consists of her digging through all the baskets of clean laundry, and getting me to choose an outfit which I must then pay her “55 dollars” for. It’s a real hoot, because I love refolding laundry over and over again.
What bugs me about her little fashion book is that each of the little figures inside is exactly the same size: tiny. And each of the dress stencils it comes with is also the same size: tiny. And when I look at my girl I see a body that will eventually probably look much like mine: tall and strong, but not tiny by any means. Ironically the figures in the book all have largish Bratz-doll like heads which are the only part of them that show any differences — one girl has curly hair, another straight. One girl has long hair, another short. There are different races represented, to the book’s credit, but annoyingly, their bodies are all exactly the same size.
And it struck me, the other morning, how uncomfortable this has been making me feel. I think about all of the beautiful women in my life, and in her little life, all different sizes and shapes and heights and weights, and since she’s too young to read Jac’s bikini post, I wanted to drive this point home to her casually while she sat working away, stencilling dresses over the pencil-thin, Bratz-style girls in her design book:
“You know, S,” I said, “the bodies of the girls in your fashion book are all the same size, and isn’t that strange, because in real life, women are all different shapes and sizes, aren’t they?”
She looked up at me, then, semi-thoughtfully, to posit a familiar refrain, “I don’t want to talk, I just want to do my drawings.”
“Okay, honey,” I said, “I just wanted to say that I am a different size than those women, and all the women we know are different shapes and sizes, and that’s a good thing! It’s great to be different! And when you grow up, you’ll be a different shape and size, too!”
“Yeah!” She chimed in, suddenly. “Like, I might have a square head!? Or I could have a triangle head!”
Yeah. So, that’s how that went.