Let Your Child Discover Their Authenticity
I’ll admit, I’m pretty sure I was destined to be a “girl mom”. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good adventure and I don’t mind getting sweaty and dirty. But I also LOVE all things fashion, make-up, and shoes and have since I can remember.
As I got to know my tiny humans (11 and 7 at the time of this writing), I began to recognize the tremendous burden I felt to do lots of things better. Body confidence and image have not always been easy for me. I’ve had my years of trying to fit in and failed miserably. I am NOT like everybody else. No matter what I tried to do to make the outside look like everyone else, inside, there were just too many layers of someone different trying to show up. I felt increasingly like I was losing the real me instead of moving towards it. The alignment I was looking for actually never happened … until I became an adult. But I don’t want that for my daughters. I want them to find that authenticity and live in it right now. So I’ve focused my efforts on two key practices, and I’m sharing them with you in the hope that you may find them useful as well.
Practice #1: Ask One Important Daily Question.
I started letting my girls choose their own outfits VERY early, much to my husband’s dismay. Would choosing them myself have been faster? YES!!! Would it have meant getting out the door earlier some days? Probably. Would it have built confidence in their ability to make choices? Probably not.
I asked my daughters one question as they got dressed EVERY SINGLE DAY.
“Does that outfit make you feel beautiful?”
If the answer was yes, they wore it. If not, we kept looking. And so it went … for years. Every morning, they were greeted with this question until finally, it made sense. It doesn’t matter how others feel about what I wear, it matters how I feel when I’m in it.
My youngest was a master pattern mixer from a very young age. She loved knee socks and wore them with EVERYTHING. She loved all that sparkled, (still does some days) and loved it best when ALL THE THINGS showed up in the same outfit. Was it too much? No. Just enough … because she felt lovely.
Fast forward to this morning when my 11-year-old AND 6-year-old BOTH went to school with a nose and whiskers painted on their faces for the “The great rat debate” happening in the 5th-grade class. Was there such a project happening in 1st grade? Nope. Did my 1st grader care? Nope. She hopped out of the car with a HUGE smile on her face. She said lots of kids in the class asked her why she was wearing whiskers and she got to tell them all about the 5th-grade project. It was perfect.
On a daily basis, choosing the right shirt is not critical to a happy life. One bad choice won’t affect much. But over a lifetime, understanding what you love to wear and what makes you happy has a massive impact. The body of research on the psychology of clothing is powerful. We are, in fact, what we wear.
- Does what you wear make you smile? Does what you wear make you feel confident? If not why?
- Does what you wear to show the world you have a story to tell? If not, can it? Should it?
These are questions I ask my girls and my clients every day.
Practice #2: Say Yes As Much As Possible So That “No” Counts.
When my grandfather died, we explained to Tristyn, our oldest, what the memorial service would be. We referred to it as the celebration of his life, a party, a time of remembering. When we packed our bags several days later to head to Virginia, she packed a hot pink, very frilly dress. When I asked her about it, she looked at me puzzled and said “Well, it’s for Gramps’s party…” Of course, yes!
When she wanted to wear her Wonder Woman costume to school for the 18th time in pre-school, the answer was yes. When she chose her fancy “heels” with sweatpants, Yes. Knee socks with shorts, Yes, Yes, Yes! She loved those things; they made her happy and those around her loved that she was showing up as uniquely her. The looks at the funeral were priceless, why didn’t we all think of it this way?
Someday, the dress will be WAY too tight or too short. One day, the belly will be too bare. That day, maybe for the first time ever, the answer will be no…and it will matter more.
Just the other day, I asked Evyn what she had learned over the years about style. She thought for a moment and said, “Not to do anything to impress OTHER people, to wear what I like.” I smiled. I think my work here is done…for now anyway.
About the Author
As a stylist + consultant, she has watched the power and impact that external changes have on the inside for her clients. She has witnessed how small changes and styling tips build up a client’s confidence enough to enable them to reclaim who they are.
Along the way, she also discovered the power of authenticity. She discovered the power of showing up in the world not as who others expect you to be but as who you are. She recognized her passion for helping women understand how beautiful they are.