"We raise children to love themselves and their friends just the way they are"
Kids are like sponges-- no, they're more like, "monkey see, monkey do." Children mock everything they see and everything they hear. They mock behavior; how they see adults interact with each other. Children are attentive listeners, even when us grown ups think kids aren't really tuned in adult conversations, they are. Later they giggle with their friends, at the lunch table, in school and mocking everything they overheard their parents say. It is not just children that are easily influenced, teenagers especially are very naïve (I was once an adolescent so this is from experience). My sisters and I argued a lot growing up...shit, we argue a lot now. I personally think it came from seeing my parents argue a lot, although; they do love each other sincerely, we argue how they argue, like cats and dogs. Don't get me wrong, my sisters are my best friends, we just emulate what we've been shown was acceptable.
As I am usually getting my daily dose of entertainment from my Twitter timeline, my college roommate tweeted something that got me thinking, and ultimately is the main source behind this post. She tweeted a very interesting question along the lines of, "how do we teach children to love themselves, when their role models get plastic surgery to correct the parts of themselves they are unhappy with?" Our society is big on popular culture, we obsess over women with plastic bodies, glorify lighter skin; women allow men to have influence over their images and we focus heavily on the outer perception of someone instead of the actual person. To think it has become such a norm to pay for the body we want, people actually got offended when Kendrick Lamar rapped, "show me something natural like an ass with some stretch marks." Thats the underlying issue, we've normalized things that aren't actually normal, natural. We are so blind by what "looks" good, we don't understand the difference between real and fake anymore.
We raise children to love themselves and their friends just the way they are. We teach them their skin, no matter the tone, is perfection and we make sure we tell them they are special in their own light. We are sure to help build their confidence and we are sure to teach them to be kind to others. The most important lesson we teach our children is to not want to be anyone but themselves, but how can we teach children something we don't practice ourselves? How can we tell children to love themselves the way they are, when their role models aren't who they really are? (physically anyway) We allow our children to idolize public figures, whose figures are reconstructed, and then we wonder why our children have a low self-esteem and bully others.
Lets take a look at some popular public figures currently...everyone's (for some validated reason I'll never comprehend) hypnotized by Kim Kardashian, but everything about her image is bought and she relies heavily on her "perfect" image, it is essentially her money maker. She drops a contour line and it sold out quicker than I can blink my eye, which is absolutely absurd. We've have praised her fake ass boobs, fake ass, ass, her fake ass nose, and her fake ass skin tone. Nicki Minaj (although I am a fan) has her fake ass that brings all the boys to the yard, it's so gigantic I'm pretty sure you can balance grey goose on it. It's iconic, its celebrated, she even made a song about it. Then we have Blac Chyna, former stripper, business woman and certified scammer, who boast about her infamous ass and loves to but it on show (trust me if I had a big ass I would too). Not to bash, but make aware the women we glorify and slob over, are the same women are daughters aspire to be and our sons wish to marry. Are we sure we want our sons bringing home a Black Chyna? Are we sure we want our daughters to grow up thinking its acceptable social media gets the opportunity to see your naked body?
Essence magazine online featured an article by Ronnie Tyler, titled, "How Can I Teach My Kids Self-Love, Even With the World Working Against Me?" Tyler discussed how she was bullied as a kid, because of her skin, her hair, and other things she couldn't control. Tyler explained, "I struggled with self-love as I was growing up. And that was reflected in many of my actions, the choices I made, and the people that I chose to align myself with." Like Tyler, because I am dark skinned, I as well experienced teasing when I was younger. Growing up there was that light skin is beautiful craze phase and everyone thought if you were light skin you were so perfect and dark skin girls weren't that pretty (ironic how times have changed). Kids were only mocking what they were watching on television, hearing from their favorite rappers and seeing in fashion ...just following the norm.
"what you allow will continue"
I always say what you allow will continue. You allow your children to watch trash ass reality television and yes, they'll re-enact love and hip hop fight scenes. You let your sons listen to music that degrade women and believe me they'll exhibit no respect for their female counterparts. We let our daughters obsess over Amber Rose's, instead of teaching them how amazing Michelle Obama is, then we wonder why they aspire to be strippers. We have to start reshaping what we've deemed as normal, or beautiful, or popular in our society. With so many outlets to speak your mind and get noticed, lets start a conversation where we talk about all the things we love about ourselves that we would never change (even if I had 10 million in my savings account). As Tyler said, "Be an Example: Your kids are watching you, and they will emulate you. If you are not honoring and respecting yourself, then you are setting the wrong example for your kids." Be the example.