I have a seven-year-old daughter. For now, she loves her body. She talks about her strength and her speed. She boasts proudly when she’s grown taller or gained weight. For the time being, she is just as she should be – a child, not self-conscious about her appearance, confident in her beauty. I wish she could stay that way. I know that she probably won’t. At some point, self-doubt will creep in. She’ll go through puberty and experience all the awkwardness of adolescence. And I’m honestly not sure how to equip her for that journey.
Recently, I had the chance to speak with Erika Katz, author of the book Bonding Over Beauty. A former child model and actress, Erika is many things that I am not. I rarely wear make-up. I wash my hair with baking soda and vinegar, and I wash my face with honey. I have tried to avoid assigning gender roles to my children. But as I stare down the gauntlet of the tween and teen years, frankly, I could use some advice, and Erika was ready and willing to talk to me about girls and self-esteem.
The premise of Erika’s book is actually not that you need to create a beauty routine for your daughter. The premise is that by doing something with your child that she enjoys, and that allows you to fully engage with her and show care for her, you’re helping her to open up and share. In the process, you’re creating a relationship that will see her through adolescence. Some girls really enjoy having their moms do their hair. Some girls really enjoy baking together. Some girls enjoy sports. You can choose the activity – it doesn’t have to be about beauty.
Erika and I talked about some hot-button parenting issues. What kind of swimsuit is appropriate for a six-year-old? How do you talk about things like wearing deodorant and shaving your legs (or not)? And how do you help your daughter feel confident in her appearance, without making her overly image-conscious? If you have a daughter, you’ll want to hear Erika’s thoughts:
Next week on the Strocel.com podcast I’ll be sharing an interview with Katharine Carol, from the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. Whether you’re a Vancouverite, or you’re just interested in arts and culture for kids, you’ll want to tune in. Subscribe to the Strocel.com podcast in iTunes, and you won’t miss a minute!