It’s the end of the year and I’m handing out twenty dollar bills like it’s my job. Mom, I need lunch money for this field trip or I’m going here and can I get a treat or it’s orange day and do you think we have one single orange article of clothing in this house? Nope. Here’s a twenty. Go find something!
It happens every year. I think we’re almost done and then there’s this burst of spending that happens. I should know by now but it always catches me off guard.
Today it’s the waterslides.
The money got overshadowed though as my son asked if he could buy his lunch there (oh sure, of course! 17 dollars for a single fry? No problem, son!) because he was frantically texting his friends amidst it all.
When I asked what was going on he said the girls were all worried about the day because they have to wear bathing suits and they all look like beached whales and they don’t want to be seen with no make up.
Of course, the boys do what they do best, they mocked them. They started talking about how they had to go because they needed to put on their waterproof mascara and how they hoped their breakfast wasn’t making them look fat.
It’s so crazy to me how different the male and female minds are.
Boys can throw on whatever clothes they find closest to them and don’t smell overly bad and head out the door with a swagger. Girls can look gorgeous but find themselves stewing about every single thing wrong with their pretty well perfect body.
I don’t have girls so I don’t know the pressures on them just now but I remember being one. I remember comparing how I looked and the clothes I had with every other girl out there. I remember feeling the same way about waterslide field trips or formal events. I remember doubting myself and wishing my skin was clearer, my teeth were straighter and my jeans looked a few years newer.
I gave my son a few quick tips. These were just the ones that popped to mind in the moment so they could be awful but I’m looking to you, mamas of girls, to help give me the words they SHOULD be saying to the girls around them.
1. Model for them the things they should say
Each girl had texted a photo of themselves puffing out their cheeks and trying to look the worst they could. Of course, they’re 13 and beautiful and even puffy faces couldn’t make them look bad so the first thing I said was, “Tell those girls your mom says they’re gorgeous and she’s so happy that you’re all friends!”
2. A bit of mockery is okay
I agreed with my son that a little mockery wasn’t so bad. He texted that he had to go and do a few crunches before leaving home to work off the water he just drank. I didn’t want him to overdo it though in case these girls are having serious body image issues and not just the normal, “i’m fat” sort of feelings. So I said to make a few jokes and then move on.
3. Compliment them on things unrelated to body image
I reminded him to compliment them on things that are not related to what they’re complaining about because chances are they won’t hear or believe his words anyways. So, in the string of texts he had assured the girls that they were being silly and they weren’t at all fat but I steered him toward changing the subject from body image to something else they’re great at. Like, “Hey remember that time we were all in math class and you made that hilarious joke that sent the whole class into hysterics!?” Uplift them about other traits you love about them. Their humour, their generosity, or a million other things to show that you value their character more than you value their body.
4. Validate but don’t let them keep fishing for compliments. Move on!
As girls we sometimes fish for compliments and it’s okay to give them, but know that you don’t have to go overboard when someone continues fishing. It’s okay to offer a quick compliment but then move on. Don’t even allow the girls to dwell there, in that state of mind, so that you feel like you have to keep telling them how pretty they are. Instead, look them in the eye, tell them the truth and then move on to – let’s go have fun! Make sure they know that you aren’t judging them or constantly staring at their bodies (you better not be!!) and critiquing it in their mind. Just have fun together in the sun and water and make it about enjoying each others company and not about what any of you look like.
Of course, these are just the things that came to mind in the 3 minute window I had before shoo’ing them out the door. If you have any other insights I should share with my boys, please let me know!!