My daughter is in middle school, and I enjoy going clothes shopping with her. How did such a thing ever come to pass? That’s what I’m writing about this month at CatholicMom.com.
Let’s clarify before you click:
- There is nothing you can do as a parent to take away your child’s free will.
- Therefore, you can do everything “right” and still have a kid who’s a nightmare to shop with, and who fights with you tooth and nail over your terrible, no-good, very bad judgment on appropriate clothing.
But that doesn’t mean we’re powerless as parents. There are things that seem to help. I write about those things. Try them and see what you think. That’s all.
The Beauty vs. Brains False Dichotomy Demon
One of the things I think matters very much in the fashion wars is letting your daughter know how beautiful she is:
Your daughter needs to hear from you, over and over and over again, all the ways she’s beautiful that have nothing to do with how closely she resembles an air-brushed super model. She needs it proven to her in the way you smile at her, the way you respect her time and talent and taste, and in the way you delight in doing things with her, listening to her, and seeing what she’ll do next.
That link in there is to a post by Simcha Fisher along the same lines. Simcha’s post is inspired by a horrible Verizon advertisement that dredges up the ancient If Beautiful, Then Brainless Sex Object false dichotomy.
Let me be perfectly clear: If you go around treating your daughter like an object for the world to fawn over, while undermining her every effort to grow spiritually, intellectually, creatively, and physically, you are being stupid and evil. Don’t do that.
But just because your daughter comes into your bedroom on a Sunday afternoon to show you how her robot works, or spends a lovely fall day playing with the snap-circuit kit, that does not mean she’s signed up for the “I Want People To Think I’m Ugly” club. You can be a girl who hikes hard trails at impossibly young ages, and saves up money, unprompted, for a plane ticket out to a National Park where she can hike up to the glaciers at 10,000 feet, and also be a girl who likes to watch make-up tutorials and do her nails.
These attributes are not mutually exclusive. I live with these girls. I know.
How to Wreck Your Marriage in Two Easy Steps
Women need to know they are beautiful. This is a thing. A real need.
Want to tempt your wife to have an affair? Here’s the quick method:
- By your acts of commission and omission, give her the “you don’t measure up” message.
- Put her in the company of some other man who openly admires her.
That’s all it takes. Your wife needs to hear from you, openly and expressly, that you think she’s wonderful. That she’s the one person you long to look at most, to be with most, that the mere sight of her fills you with joy. She needs that.
Ladies, it works the same way for husbands. He needs to know you admire him. He needs to know that he’s doing a good job husbanding his family (that’s you). He needs to know that you aren’t holding him to an impossible standard. That you appreciate him even when the whole world is conspiring against him to keep him from getting done what he wants to get done.
The man-version has it’s own flavor, and that’s what confuses. Nothing will destroy a man faster than constantly pointing out how his job isn’t good enough, how miserable you are because you can’t afford what some other guy can buy his wife, and how you’ve obviously settled for second-rate goods in him, what a martyr you are.
Is This a Real Need? Check Facebook.
Am I being superficial? Should ladies just get over it about wanting to be beautiful because it’s a cultural construct designed to oppress and objectify? I say no, and I call Facebook as my witness.
When girls cyber-bully each other, do you know what they do? They say, “You’re ugly.” That’s what they say. You aren’t pretty, your tastes are awful, your outfit is dreadful, and therefore no one will love you. They say it because it works. Because they know it will cut a girl to the core, no matter how untrue it might be.
In contrast, when girls and women post photos on social media of themselves, the very first thing all their real girlfriends do is jump in and say, “Wow! Looks great!” “Love that color on you!” “Great haircut!” “What pretty eyes!” “So lovely!” That’s what we do. Instinctively we know that our friend has put herself out there, and that she needs to know how much we love the mere sight of her.
See Her as God Sees Her
When real girlfriends see each other, online or in person, we don’t think to ourselves, “Oh gosh, if only she’d lose that weight” or “Too bad about that acne.” That’s not friend-thinking. That’s enemy-talk. When you get over your stupidity and start really loving your friends, what you notice is how beautiful they are. Really beautiful, not fakey-fakey just lie and say something nice talk. The imperfections are a trifle, because you see the real person.
This is what God sees. He’s got the imperfections taken care of, there’s a process for that, done. He looks at his daughter and sees her the way He created her: A work of art. A treasure. Irreplaceable.
He desperately longs to know her, to be with her, to listen to her, to gaze upon her face. He loves her so much He’ll do anything He can to make that happen.
What your daughter needs is for you to be a little Christ for her. That’s all.
Image by Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons