My daughter is doing great with the toddler stage of establishing independence and autonomy. At least, that’s what I say on a good day. On a trying day, I might say she is stubborn and opinionated. She has recently assumed command of picking out her own clothes. I had to check myself the other day, when this was her outfit:
Initially, I didn’t want her to wear that. I asked myself why?
Me: “Because I don’t want people to think I dressed her like that.”
Analyzing Me: I am sure it is evident to others that she picked out her clothes but why do I care what other people think?
Me: “Because I want them to think she looks cute.”
This is where the gears grinned to a halt in my head. I wanted to her to dress in a way that appealed to others. If I told her that she couldn’t wear that outfit (aside from the fit changing would create), I would be sowing the idea of your appearance should please others. Or even worse, you should dress in a way that makes yourself attractive to other people. Yuck!
This is not at all the message I want to be subtly ingraining in her. I learned that if I am not careful I will unconsciously start her off seeking other people’s approval and discounting her own opinions and choices. So now most days she wears what she wants – as long as it matches the weather outside and the needs of the occasion. Much to her dismay, I still have not let her go out wearing her Snow White costume but she did get to wear her pink tutu. Someday we will get to the idea of matching and coordinating colors.
More importantly though, I am trying to be sensitive to the subtle messages she receives. Not long after this, we were at the mall and I saw there was a perfume poster with a naked women with her arms folded across her chest. At her age, I didn’t have to address this one yet. When she is older, we will have to talk about why you see ads mostly with naked women and not men, why neither is okay, what is beautiful and how you show your beauty.
So in hopes of a strong self image in the future, who knows what you will spot her wearing today. I will be proud of her choice and be happy to have one less battle to fight.