In the comments to our post “The Things We Can Control,” Pearl points to an interesting blog entry by Rachel Apanewicz-Delgado on her own body image as it relates to working with her daughter’s Girl Scout troup.
I’d love to have Laurie here to blog this with me, because it’s about parenting, which she has done and I have not. But here I am.
When I read, “‘My Mother doesn’t think she’s pretty,’ my daughter shared as we sat at the round table and discussed self-esteem at our last Girl Scout meeting,” my first reaction is what a huge disadvantage our children face, when so often the messages they need to hear are ones their parents, and teachers, and peers need to hear just as desperately. I find myself wanting those girls is to be in touch with adult women (and other adults) who aren’t sweating their own stuff, aren’t needing to use Girl Scout time and energy for their own issues, people who can convey and transmit self-esteem and love of one’s body with confidence and surety.
It’s not just a girls’ issue: boys need the same things. Nothing beats exposure to strong, confident role models.
But that’s just a first reaction, and not a complete one. Rachel’s struggles are endemic in the culture, and emphatically not her fault. As long as internal strength, confidence, and comfortable self-esteem are limited resources in the culture, Rachel is doing the best work that can be done. I’ve often heard Laurie say, “The truth is never bad for children.” I give Rachel a great deal of credit for admitting her troubles with body image and self-esteem to her daughter, and more credit for being willing to work with the Girl Scouts on an issue where she’s not comfortable herself. She could so easily pretend that she was teaching them something she knew about, and in all probability they would know (perhaps without knowing how they knew it) that this was just more bullshit. This way, they’re getting the genuine article, and learning something about honesty into the bargain.