I thought of this early lesson when I read author Lisa Bloom's insightful article, "How to Talk to Little Girls." Bloom, who wrote Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, writes about attending a dinner party and seeing a precious little 5-year-old girl, Maya. Her immediate impulse was to fuss over Maya and exclaim about her cuteness. But she restrained herself and instead asked Maya about her favorite book. Maya proceeded to proudly share her book and read it aloud to Bloom. Ironically, the book's heroine was being tormented by her peers for her love of the color "pink," which allowed Bloom to talk to the young girl about peer pressure and mean girls.
Lisa Bloom notes a recent ABC News story reporting that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In her book she shares these facts:
- 15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick regularly.
- Eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down.
- 25 percent of young American women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Even bright, successful college women say they'd rather be hot than smart.
I am definitely a "fawner"--when I see an adorable child, I'm prone to exclaiming over their cuteness factor--whether they be a boy or a girl! But I must bite my tongue, especially if the child is a girl. This is not because she is not cute, but because we need girls to hear messages about their talents and their intelligence instead of the ever-present focus on their appearance.
Bloom challenges each of us to do this:
Plenty of other people will tell her that she looks gorgeous, cute, or pretty. Take the road less traveled. Be the change in her world.