“You just don’t understand what it is like” is something that I have been hearing a lot lately. Not from the students in my classroom but from my own daughter.
I was in her bedroom this morning mooching around as she was getting ready to go to work. She took the brave step two months ago to leave college and start a full time hairdressing apprenticeship. She sought this out herself. She’d been unhappy at college on the course she was doing, this was causing trouble at home, and she really still doesn’t know what she really wants to do. But finally she talked it out and she made a call. Organised a trial day, and he presto was accepted. We are so proud that she took the leap all by herself. 10% Braver.
This was the confident young lady I had hoped I had brought up. Resilient, forthright, brave and somewhat outspoken at times! But she had stood her ground and got what she wanted.
Yet this morning, she sat at her dressing room table and not for the first time uttered those words… “You just don’t understand” as she tried for the second time to straighten a kink in her hair, and put more foundation on to an already beautifully flawless face.
She hollered about the fact that her eyebrow pencil had run out and she couldn’t put her eyebrows on today. I looked at her face and thought to myself that her eyebrows looked fine, but what do I know about eyebrows these days. They’ve gone from being plucked to within an inch of nothing, to looking like great big slugs, shaved and everything in between, I’ve seen them all in my classes over the years!
“You just don’t understand!” came the refrain again as she ran around looking for her handbag, “they are all perfect at work and if I don’t look perfect they will fire me, it’s all about how you look, You just don’t understand! They all judge me”. Well talk about arrows to my heart. I wanted to scoop her up into my arms and shield her from the world right there, while at the same time rage at a world that makes a young girl feel like this.
I thought I had spent the last 16 almost 17 years instilling in to my beautiful, intelligent daughter that we are more than the sum of the outside. That what is important about ourselves is how we perceive ourselves. Our own self-worth is not judged by others. It is what we contribute to society, how we take care of ourselves, what we value as important, our core morals, ethics, and our internal drivers. Not what is in the mirror, or on some dress size label or what we wear.
So how did I get it so wrong? In this #selfie obsessed culture, where every moment is captured for everyone to scrutinise and be scoured over. Hours are spent in some of these so called instant Instagram moments, can’t she see this. That this isn’t the real world, that she is more than the sum of her perfectly plucked and shaped eyebrows, contoured cheek bones, which I might add are stunning without extra shading, her flawless and blemish free skin. I can’t bear to see her compare herself and come up short. It breaks my heart when I hear her put herself down day in day out, how low her self-esteem is, yet what I am seeing is perfection.
She has the body that is the perfect size for her 5 ft 6 inch frame, with curves in the right place, do I think she exposes this too much for her age, yes, but once again “You just don’t understand! All the girls are doing it; it’s the fashion in this day and age!”
We have been at war for a while, she can’t talk to me without yelling, storming out, and communication is tough, is this because she is in that phase of trying to be an adult but not really ready for that yet. Or am I holding her back afraid that I haven’t prepared her well enough. Underage drinking, drugs, late nights, pregnancies are rife in our area, do I worry that these are situations that she will be exposed to, influenced, succumb to without thinking it through, living in the moment of the #instant #selfie life. She is working full time with adults, I am worried that they will forget that she is only 16/17 what influence will they have on her, as they also live in this #online self-obsessed world, where every moment is documented with no thought for the future or tomorrow, but only comparing how great their life if compared to the next, or reaching for the #celebritygoals, #bffgoals.
Am I getting too old, am I trying to hold on to my little girl? Am I afraid if I let her grow up I will lose her for ever to this scary online world that I’m not really a part of. That ‘I don’t understand’!
How can I show her the way to confidence and pride in her own being? How to take care of herself? I have worked all my life, to overcome own body image issues and swore not to put those on to her. Praised her for her successes, achievements, not for the way she looked although secretly gloated at her beauty and poise (not something I had at her age, being something of a calamity Jane! Speak to my Mum).
I always talked about the fact that as women we should never let anything stand in our way, we are capable of doing anything, only we are the masters of our own fortunes, only we hold our destinies in our hands, not our looks dictating how far we go, it’s our ability to employ our brains and intellect, our ability to use failure as a tool to grow, belief in our own vision, and never let others dictate who or what we can be to hold us back.
So how did this fall on deaf ears. “I don’t understand” when did this all change for her, when did my confident, little go getter become so lost. So angry at the world; so worried that she wasn’t good enough? When did her looks become the most important thing?
I don’t understand how to combat this. Maybe this is the cry of every generation of parents; maybe this is my right of passage as I move through my phases of motherhood. As I transition from the mother of a child, teenager, to the mother of an adult, I have to learn to let go and realise that she is right. May be she is right! I don’t understand and probably never will.
I guess time is not on my side , “It is slipping though my fingers”. (Mascara warning)
All I need her to know is that no matter what I am proud of her, love her, will always be here for her and her place in my heart is never in doubt, no matter how much she shouts, yells and slams doors.
One thing is for sure no matter how much she doubts herself that she thinks she isn’t good enough she will always be perfect to me.
Eyebrows done or not.