Felt like writing today – thoughts bubbling up – I’m more aware of them since I’ve done yoga. I’m writing this to my daughter, and all the daughters out there who may think they need to change something.
I was driving home from visiting my dad with my 10-year-old daughter when she grabbed our water bottle and squeezed her lips into the top of the bottle. She then pulled the bottle out – FAST. It left her with a great red line round her lips, they looked sore, she went on to pout in the passenger seat mirror. With an inkling about her intention, I squeaked out (the words catching in my throat): “what ARE you doing?” She said she’d seen the girls on Youtube doing this, she wanted to make her lips bigger… she’s 10. I asked her what she was doing with the pouting… she couldn’t answer. She didn’t know of course… she’s 10.
Just like when I wrote about her saying her thighs were fat (she’s not said this since I’m cheered to say) I was heartbroken in an instant. I need to write about this more, I need to talk about this more, I need us all – me included – to become aware of this more, because it’s just upsetting. Upsetting on so many levels.
Our children are just that, they are children. Innocent, naive, untainted, free – they don’t know who they are, they’re learning, exploring, getting a sense of themselves, growing on every level. We can protect them as much as we can but they’re like these huge absorbent sponges to all the messaging out there. We as children were never immune, but now I see it coming at my children thick and fast – phones, tablets, TV, Netflix, social media, apps, games, Xboxes, billboards, adverts, opinions, language. A relentless outpouring of imagery and words. But what us adults are missing is the power of the imagery and the covert messaging in there. Underneath that to a young person who isn’t clear on who they are they can say – you aren’t OK as you are little one, this is the way you need to look like, this is the size you must be… have this hair, get these lips, these cheeks, wear this, not that. Start changing yourself and hey why wait kids? Do it at 10, sod it why not 5, maybe 2?!
You may be 10 my beautiful girl, you may still love playing with your dolls, cuddling your Tigger, sitting on mum’s lap but these videos, these manufacturers – and us parents too – doing the very same things to ourselves – are telling you you must change. That there’s something wrong with you as you are. Grow up now my girl, grow up fast, be sexualised, get that make-up on, get out there. Conform to an ideal that you know nothing about.
I can deal with the clothes and the make up – I’m taken back to when I was 14 and my neighbour snitched on for wearing pink blusher and twilight teaser lipstick to school – that’s always been there but now we’ve moved on to a whole new level of indoctrination – and that’s what it is – conditioning coming at us from everywhere. Our children have access to so much more – now we can get lip fillers, we can buy a plastic bum and a six pack. You may gasp but how long will it be before kids have access to this stuff behind closed doors – how long until this is the norm for them – it won’t be sneaking on the lipstick, it will be sneaking in the filler? How many kids are already thinking about this?
I just wish we would understand more just how human we all are, how we aren’t invincible to this stuff, how easily led we are – and if you think you aren’t led just ask yourself if you have sugar every day? I’m not judging here, I’m really not, I’m just pointing out how insidious the messaging is, how powerfully it gets in there and how led we are when we think we control our own lives. If we are led as adults what the hell is happening to our children?
So this lip thing just got me, it got right in there. I don’t follow much of that kind of stuff and yet it’s still on my social media – and I’m not immune to the allure of change either – in fact the seductiveness of it frightens me – for me and for my children, it really does – what are we doing to them? What are we saying when we invite this in? Clearly she saw the video of these girls and thought I’ll give that a go – my lips need to be bigger. Bigger for what she didn’t know. This messaging says you need to look like this, it’s becoming ALL ABOUT what we look like, our identify, our worth bound up in what we look like. Come on!! (I’m telling myself too) WE ARE SO MUCH MORE. SO MUCH MORE. I also wonder once we do this stuff how does that then play out in our relationships? What kind of man goes for the whopping great lips and all the pouting, I mean to me when I see certain imagery I think well you may as well just have a great big vagina on your face. And what if girls start doing this earlier and earlier – who are they attracting when they aren’t even ready hold hands in the playground?
I’m sorry if I sound ranty, I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone, it’s not my intention (but this may well illicit some strong views). The good news is living the yoga path makes you wake up, the bad news is living the yoga path makes you wake up.
So my darling girl, I love you as you are, completely and unconditionally; there is nothing I would change about you, not one bit. Let’s get off the screens, grab our bikes, get the dog and go and get muddy.