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“Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder” Indeed!

4 Well loved Barbie DollsCHRISTINE MARRIN: This quote dates back to the 3rd century BC, which is a very long time ago; perhaps it has been for this long that we have been obsessed with all things beauty.

As the mother of two daughters, and of course, as a woman myself, I am acutely aware of the messages that constantly bombard us about beauty. And there seems to be no end of ways to achieve this end: foods to eat, products to buy, exercises to do, fashion trends to follow and clothes that are designed to lift, separate, smooth, shape, tame, slim down, flatter, and amp up my confidence! Wow!

I contend that if we want our children to see their own beauty, we need to do all we can to teach them that they are their own beholders. It’s how they see themselves through their own eyes that count.

When my older daughter was little, I decided that no Barbies would come into our home. No way was my child going to play with a doll like that! I discovered that if Barbie were a real person, she would be 6' 0", weigh 100 lbs., and wear a size 4. Her measurements would be 39"/19"/33". To put that middle measurement into perspective (Barbie’s waist), let me share that the honey dew melon on my counter has a circumference of 20 inches! Yikes! And I have even heard the idea that if Barbie was human, and those were her real measurements, she would literally not have enough room for her own intestines! Cringe! As luck would have it, my daughter expressed absolutely no interest in them anyway, so the topic never came up.

So years went by and we were a Barbie free house, and I was proud! Oh yes I was!! But then life intervened, as it often does, and a most curious thing happened.

My second daughter loved Barbies! And I mean looooved them! And when people would ask her what she wanted for her birthday or for Christmas, she would respond, “Barbies!” I remember thinking, “Be still my heart!”

Clearly the good ol’ Universe was having its way with me and showing me a wee something I needed to look at inside of myself and so I gave in, and I bought my daughter a Barbie. That decision was the start of a years long, meandering discussion with my daughters about beauty, body image, the media, illusion, reality and more!

The day my younger daughter noticed that Barbie’s waist was bizarrely tiny (thank goodness, she noticed, I remember thinking) was monumental, and so I took that opportunity to talk with both girls about how unrealistic her body was, and that not everyone grows to be 6 feet tall anyway! My older daughter had just finished a unit of study at school on Messages and the Media and so she chimed in with, “And we learned that every single model in a magazine or online is Photoshopped!” Yes! They were learning! So that day we looked at a video called, Dove Ad: The Evolution of Beauty and my girls were astonished!

They couldn’t believe that the model’s neck got elongated and they were horrified that her eyebrows were raised. We looked at ads for cosmetics, fashion, perfume, and they were shocked when I pointed out to them that the models didn’t even have pores!

I have read a quote from Cindy Crawford, arguably one of the world’s most successful models, in which she says, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” Well, if that doesn’t just say it all, then I don’t know what does.

Jean Kilbourne's documentary entitled, Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women (this link is a trailer of the salient bits) is, to me, a disturbing commentary on women, the media, beauty, the whole nine yards. It’s powerful stuff.

Now I don’t want to misrepresent myself here. I do want my girls to embrace their feminine side, their feminine energy, and the divine goddess that resides inside each of them. I hope that I have done a good job of speaking about the miracle that my own body is, one that divinely created them, perfectly! I want them to see their bodies as uniquely theirs; strong, beautiful, brilliant, and full of wisdom. I feel perfectly fine about them experimenting with make up, fashion, hair design, if they choose. They will ask me on occasion to curl or straighten their hair, do their make up and experiment with clothes. This can be enormous fun! And of course exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This is certainly true!

I just don’t want them attaching their vision of themselves as 'beautiful' to these external pursuits. I wish for them to see themselves as they truly are, two beautiful beings who: love deeply and unconditionally, laugh freely and with abandon, are connected to their feelings, treat animals with tenderness and respect, are loyal friends, the list goes on. This is how I hope they define their own beauty, by what’s on the inside. This, at the heart of it all, is what I wish for them.

And if the odd Barbie doll can help me to achieve this goal, then I welcome her into my home with open arms! 

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Article Pic Biography
Christine Marrin, a former elementary school teacher, is passionate about spiritual well-being and creating true connection with her children. Having been diagnosed with Post Partum Depression after the birth of her first daughter, she realized that a lot of spiritual healing was needed and thus her path towards awakened, conscious parenting that deeply honours the spirits of her children was born. She works with parents who wish to nurture, heal and shift their relationships with their children. Christine understands that many parents wish to parent differently than they were parented, and that this takes courage, healing and a little help! She lives with her arbourist husband, two joy filled daughters, and their beloved dog. She loves anything nature and can be found exploring forests with her pup where she hopes to catch a glimpse of Mother Earth's creatures. She loves making new and unique smoothie combinations and she has been told that her mashed potatoes could win awards!

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