Monday, August 12, 2013

Why My Girls Won't Be Reading Anne of Green Gables Any Day Soon.

"Oh, don't speak about freckles to me...It isn't delicate when I'be got so many."

"Well, they didn't pick you for your looks, that's sure and certain"….She's terrible skinny and homely, Marilla….Lawful heart did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots!" 
Mrs. Rachel Lynde.

My girls have freckles and red hair. They are beautiful little girls who will grow up to be beautiful women and their red hair and freckles will always be part of them. 

Anne of Green Gables also has red hair and freckles. But, she isn't happy about it. And neither are some of the people around her. 

We all know we are surrounded by a society that OVER emphasizes appearance and under emphasizes character. And this is especially problematic for girls. Girls tend to focus on BEING more than DOING. With that comes a focus on appearances. That isn't all bad…it is, in a certain way, how we are wired. 

The 7 year old comes down stairs in her pink leotard and tutu and asks for her hair to be put in a ballet bun. She wants to BE a ballerina---and looking the part is all she needs for now. Of course she doesn't care that her undershirt is all bunched up under the leotard, or that the tutu is hanging too too low. Someday she will attend to those details, and that will be appropriate, then. 

Both the 11 year old and the 7 year old are learning how to dress modestly. They usually follow our family standards for this virtue (not that there is anything written in stone, just a few rules for what sorts of clothes go together) without much discussion. They are both developing their own sense of style and opinions about what looks pretty. 

However, when they begin to look at the things that are "the way God made them"---their bodies, their physical features--I want them to be accepting and appreciative of the unique gifts that they are. For MY kids, that means freckles and red hair and it has never occurred to them yet to dislike those features. They often get comments from people that are positive--though I wish people would not do that. I know that they are just trying to be friendly and complimentary. But for some kids any attention from strangers is negative and embarrassing.

I read an interesting blog post last week about how to talk to your daughter about her body. I agree with the article but I also see the point of one commenter who said that not hearing anything about her appearance from her mom left her assuming it was because she wasn't very pretty. I have tried to not speak negatively about my own body in front of my girls. I have also not spoken to them about things like weight--we don't talk about foods as "fattening" but healthy or not-healthy, foods that give you good energy or those that don't. But, I also think there is a danger in pretending that they don't care about their physical features. They do. 

Can I expect my girls to not notice that they have red hair and freckles? That ship has already sailed. They look in the mirror, they know. But what I hope for them is that they can grow up to accept their unique physical features as "they way they were made" and to resist the destructive thoughts that lead a girl to stand in front of the mirror and say "I hate my…". 

Maybe someday my redheads can read Anne of Green Gables and gloss over or laugh at Anne's insecurities. And they will see the young lady she grows up to be and all her other great characteristics. But for now, they do not need to be introduced to anything that might make them look in the mirror and question their beauty. 

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