I adore my niece, Anna.
She’s a little over 2 years old now, so she’s learning to talk. I’ve always talked to her, as uncles do, but now we’re close to having a conversation of sorts. She understands so much.
I recently read an article about the way we speak to young women, and it really made me think about the way I speak with Anna. It’s by Lisa Bloom, and she focuses on how we should try to avoid talking to little girls about how they look (no matter how hard it is not to point out all the cute things about them).
The article is particularly interesting to me because of a different viewpoint I had previously been exposed to. I didn’t agree with this viewpoint, but I respect the person who said it. His idea is that women spend ages 8 to 80 being told by numerous sources–the media, friends, family, etc–that they are NOT beautiful. So to counteract that, he thinks those early years when everyone tells little girls they’re beautiful and adorable are really important.
I see that point, but I like Lisa Bloom’s stance more. As she says, “Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything.” Instead of focusing on beautiful vs. not beautiful, she believes in the importance of not talking about looks at all.
In the article, she talks about some interactions she had with a friend’s 5-year-old daughter. They sat down to read a book (the girl chose the book, and it was all about outfits and clothes–even kids books are focused on appearances).
After reading the book, they talked about a lot of things. But, as Bloom says, “Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It’s surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I’m stubborn.” I really love that.
I think Anna is adorable, but fortunately it’s not my instinct to tell her that. My instinct is to talk to her about the world and her world. That’s the Bloom method, and I like it.
What do you think?