As a mother to three boys, I believe in the importance of raising them to develop positive, respectful relationships with others – and with themselves.
The beauty industry is often criticised for the pressure it puts on young people to prioritise and compare their physical appearance. It’s a valid concern. The last thing we want our children to feel is that they won’t measure up unless their looks fit a pre-constructed (and very narrow) idea of outward beauty.
But there is another concern at play. I am uncomfortable that if we pressure our children to cast aside all thoughts of outward appearance, it can foster an unhealthy fascination, fear, or neglect of their appearance. I like how one beauty blogger put it, “I want to feel good on the inside and the outside. My inner voice would make me feel ashamed for wanting to look good… I have to let go of the guilt I’ve attached to this.”
On one hand we have an industry accused of capturing young minds and forcing them to strive for unattainable heights of beauty. On the other hand, we are made to feel ashamed if we give any focus to appearance or even seem to care about it.
What is the balance? Imagine if we could teach our children that even though beauty should never be solely defined by physical characteristics, there is no shame in caring for our appearance. In fact, if feeling comfortable with our appearance makes us more confident, more at-ease, and enables us to fully focus on other parts of life, then how can this be negative?
As adults we feel guilty about so much, especially dare I say parents juggling childcare and work. Let’s teach our children that there is no place for guilt associated with caring about your appearance. Most importantly, let’s also teach them to be proud of who they are – inside and out.”