Life Lessons From My Library: A Bad Case of Stripes
I recently had the honor of hearing a speech by Julie Baumgardner, president and CEO of First things First. She talked about many important things we face in our culture today, but the most outstanding to me personally was talking to our daughters about beauty and confidence, and teaching them to be yourself. This topic is one that is almost always on my mind and is a huge part of why I started my own website. I always want my daughter to know how beautiful and amazing she is.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.Psalms 139:14
I am quite honestly terrified of what this world has to offer my daughter. Parents today face a whole different world of problems. We have things to worry about that our parents could not even comprehend. And it starts early. The statistics and reports are staggering, if not downright frightening.
Julie stated the following facts:
Nine out of ten children between the ages of eight and sixteen have been exposed to pornography online. Pornography is more addicting then morphine and cocaine.
The onset of social media correlates with increases in the rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Popular teen magazines feature topics such as, “How to Be Safe and Smart when Sexting.
From the Kinsey Institute, The CDC estimates that more than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV and 1 in 5 are unaware.
What’s the Point?
What does all this have to do with this book in the title? Many problems we face today, as women, and particularly as parents are the result of anxiety, self-doubt, peer pressure, and lack of confidence.
I turn toward books when I need encouragement or answers and as a means to open up conversation.
A New Chapter
I never thought my daughter would be suffering with self-confidence or care what others think. She was so determined and independent as a toddler and preschooler. She has been since birth. I naively thought she would always carry the strong confidence with her. Then….
School started and thus began a new chapter in our lives. A chapter where she was being made fun of for biting her lips. At one point she did not want a water bottle I bought because she was scared people would make fun of her.
She started saying things that she had never heard from me or my husband. (We have certainly said our share of things in front of our daughter that we should not have, but this was not one of them. ) She told me she believed she was beautiful but not smart.
The peer pressure rolled in and the confidence rolled out.
A Bad Case of Stripes is a story about peer pressure and caring what people think of you. It is a simple story about being yourself.
At the beginning Camilla can’t decide what to wear on the first day of school. She keeps changing outfits. She changes so much that she becomes, you guessed it, striped.
Camilla wanted to impress people and she was worried about fitting in. She was embarrassed to admit she liked lima beans. Camilla was afraid people would make fun of her or think she was weird.
Through the story, Camilla has to rediscover who she is to cure herself of the stripes.
She eventually admits she likes lima beans and decides that it is okay to be a little weird sometimes. For all the crazy twists and turns, you’ll have to read the story for yourself! 😉
Recently my daughter started saying a new phrase to me, “You’re weird.” If I act goofy or silly, she rolls her eyes and calls me weird. My first inclination was to tell her not to call me weird, but then I started thinking, “Is this really a bad thing?” Everybody is weird or different in their own ways. I accept that I may be weird, at least to some people. Instead of balking at her comment, my response is “I’m okay with that.”
Because you see, if you are telling me I am weird because I am having fun or because I like different things then you, then that is just fine. We do not have to all like the same things. We are not going to like the same things. How boring would that be!?
By accepting that I like who I am, I am telling my daughter I am not ashamed. I am not scared to act silly or just be me. She too can be brave and can learn to love herself for who she is. Just as I am and you are as well, we are wonderfully and fearfully made.
Are you really an individual?
Recently, my daughter told me that she did not want get big boobs because people would make fun of her. While her statement was seemingly innocent, it did cause me to reflect on how early body image can start. It is shoved in our faces and our daughter’s faces on a daily basis: i.e. Brat dolls, Barbie, cartoons. Even a book my child brought home from the library where the characters were over sexualized (in my opinion).
While I would like to shield her from all these images, I know I cannot control all things. With the advent of school, she is away from me more then I am comfortable. However, we do no live in a bubble. We need to be aware and we need to keep our eyes wide open.
My daughter’s innocent comment opened up the conversation that sometimes people make fun of you out of ignorance or lack of self confidence themselves.
In our culture, I think we forget about individuality. Sure we might claim we are all for independence and individuality, but when it comes down to you being the one to stand out in the crowd, we often try to fade into the background. As much as the world talks about individuality, are we really exhibiting that in our daily lives?
There is no rest.
Even more so now, children are ostracized and bullied. Not only may these things happen at school, but now with the advent of social media and cell phones, they are ostracized and bullied at home. The term is “Cyberbullying” and it may yet to prove to be even more harmful. There is no rest, unless you as the parent are being very intentional.
Being okay with you.
When someone does dress a little differently or maybe has more tattoos then you might, or they look a little different, our first inclincation is to judge. Now I’m not suggesting that you go out and change everything about yourself just for the sake of being an invididual, but what I am saying is that if we do dress like our friends or like what they like, then we need to look at ourselves and think, “Am I dressing like this because I want to or because that is what my friends are doing? Is this really me?”
We have to look at ourselves and discover who we really are. How else will we expect our children to learn who they are?
Like Camilla in the story, it is okay to like the same things others like, but it is also okay to be a little different sometimes. Camilla was lost amongst the sea of comparison and people pleasing. I can relate. I myself battle with people pleasing. My biggest fear archetype is people pleasing.
I have family members that will tell my kids they are being weird, in a negative way. Their intention is not to hurt, so don’t misread me, their intention is to save my child from embarrassment and bullying. I certainly want that as well, but not at the expense of my children losing who they really are. Perhaps there is a better way to teach social norms (like don’t pick your nose, give people a little space, etc..). Those lessons are necessary in their own place.
It’s okay to like lima beans, even if nobody else does.
Change your perspective and make “weird” a compliment rather then an insult.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the culmination of God’s masterpiece.
What about you makes you “weird” or uniquely you?