Mommy, what does beautiful look like? (Avoid the question)

There are some questions you know you will have to answer as a girl mom… Where do babies come from? What is a period? Why doesn’t (somebody) like me? Each question holds its own fears for me. As someone with incredibly low self esteem, the scariest questions for me are around the concept of being beautiful. After all, what DOES beautiful look like? The instinctive answer in my head is always, “not like me”. I have no idea where it started, but I know it never ended. I would do anything to avoid ever having Charly even ask the question! Because that would mean she had a sense of it herself.

Before you even start reading – this post is not sponsored in any way. I received 3 of the Fashionistas fro Charly a long while back, but the concept of this post began in 2016 and only properly took place when I was playing with Charly and the dolls.

So! Back to the story… My whole life, I have been chubby. My hair was short, course, curly and a strawberry straw colour. I had freckles and then acne on my round-shaped face. Beautiful was tall and slim, with long silky blonde hair, blue eyes and smooth clear tanned skin.

Beautiful girl standards

That narrow definition of beautiful is ridiculous to me now.

While women who look that way are most certainly exquisitely beautiful, some of the most beautiful women I know are short or intimidatingly tall. Almost all of them have curly hair in a huge range of colours. Most of them are not what society would consider skinny or thin. I think there are only a handful of them who have smooth clear skin. There is no single version of beauty.

Role models in childhood tend to be the main character of a movie, show or book. And unfortunately, when we are younger, we focus on the superficial… believing if we look or dress or sound a certain way, we will be the centre of an exciting story and live happily ever after. I am relieved that the lead characters of my childhood have been joined by emotionally powerful girls who don’t fit traditional beauty standards. (And boys… Hiccup, I see you and acknowledge your tremendous strength and character in spite of being scrawny and smaller than the average viking forearm.)

Moana is just everything. It ran on repeat on both TVs in the house every day for months. She is strong and determined and follows her heart – which doesn’t lead her to a love story! Her gorgeous curls are part of her character and her body is strong and solid. And the writers did proper research and consulting to ensure that she was proudly representative of the islands with her features and her culture. THAT is beautiful!

beautiful Moana_classic_doll

I am determined to get Charly a Moana doll soon, because that is how she “lives” these stories at this stage, through the dolls and figurines available.She really enjoys playing out stories with her Barbies and other dolls. She has a variety of dolls with different skin tones and hair, which was a first step… I wanted them to be representative of her everyday life, her friends, her teachers. But things like body shape, height, hair style and features all remained disturbingly the same. She doesn’t see it yet, I never did until I had her… I always thought people complaining about doll stuff was a big deal over nothing, more band-wagoning.

But watching HOW she plays with them shifted something in the way I see things. I watch her playing, creating lives for them, projecting herself onto them… And it started to occur to me that, while I never thought about the fact that my dolls were very thin or very blonde, I idealised the way they looked… The lightly tanned smooth complexion, small pointed nose, blue eyes, the long straight blonde hair, the gently oval face and the “perfect” body shape. Barbie was beauty…

(I found this amazing article from Daily Mail that looks at the way Barbie has represented societies’ concept of beauty since her inception in 1959. For more of the faces, you can pop over to Bored Panda.)

This is the Barbie of my childhood… She was so very beautiful!

faces-barbie-evolution-1959-2015-bored panda

She is STILL very beautiful, but now she is REAL too! A long while ago I came across the Fashionista Barbie range online and fell completely in love with them. This year, Blue Horizon Marketing finally introduced them to the South African market!

COPYRIGHT MLM beautiful FASHIONISTAS

You guys I am OBSESSED with these dolls! They are literally each original and STUNNING! There is a Barbie that has my round shaped face! There are also Barbies that have sharp chins, square jaws, narrow foreheads and broad foreheads. Some have thick eyebrows, some long, some shaped and others super sparse brows. There are a few with my “fat lips” (I’ve always thought of my lips as too big) and they aren’t all smiling!

There are dolls with every different colour, styled and textured hair. They have different noses, different shaped and coloured eyes. There are really tall dolls, tiny petite dolls, skinny dolls, regular dolls and the gorgeously curvy dolls. There are EIGHTEEN “Curvy” Barbies internationally! They have wide hips and curved bellies and broad thighs and calves. You guys, there are dolls with FLAT FEET in sandals, boots and sneakers. I got quite weirdly emotional seeing myself in these dolls. And I really got it.

If my daughter has a variety of these Barbies (we received 3 from Mattel when they launched and I have been slowly collecting more and plan on getting her the whole range over time), she will see everybody as beautiful. She will never see different in a negative light. When her dolls go swimming, their body types are all different. The clothes they choose to wear is different. The fact that their hair is long, short, straight, curly, red, brown, blonde or bright blue or pink… it won’t matter! It won’t be “other”.

COPYRIGHT MLM beautiful barbie dolls

I want Charly to have access to every version of who she can be – from the toys she chooses to play with, to the school subjects and sports she loves, to what she wears, how she looks and what career path she chooses. I know the Fashionistas are just dolls, and it is MY job to teach her all of this and I think I am doing a pretty good job so far… But how much easier is it going to be if I can just play with her, with these beautiful dolls and it becomes a part of her worldview and her perception of beauty… I may avoid the question of what beautiful looks like altogether!

COPYRIGHT MLM beautiful girls with barbies

The adorable Abigail and Charly wearing gorgeous dresses from The Fairy Shop, photographed by Abi’s lovely mama, Josie of Josie Photography.

How would you answer the question of what is beautiful? A heads up from somebody who has been there, “Beauty comes from the inside” doesn’t make an insecure child feel any better… It feels like you are dodging the question. I tell Charly every day that she is beautiful. Since long before Charly was born, I have always commented on or complimented the beauty of every person I come across – regardless of size, race, culture or physical or mental abilities. There is ALWAYS something beautiful about a person and pointing out that beauty to people has always made me so happy!

So that’s my ramble for today!

Sending you all the love xxx

Comments

  1. says

    Barbie is banned in our house I hated them as a young child however my sister loved them from a young age I found them hideous and fake and still do even though they are trying to promote body positivity , my daughter only has ever after dolls, lalaloopsy andomster high I found the series of these dolls have far better focus on inner beauty rather than put beauty aswell as a focus on kindness to all beings the movies and series are wonderful to watch , having said that we have raised our mini to focus on a person’s soul we always complement mind and soul before body no matter who it is , we have a mantra we repeat every night and every morning which is I am intelligent I am brave I am strong i am confident I am beautiful I am loved followed by hugs and then our special hug button hearts , so far it works for us , we are pretty open with our mini on all fronts ,and her being in a Montessori environment where she is exposed to all different cultures , religions and even disabilities has helped aid us in raising a very well rounded little human who seeks out beautiful souls and not beautiful bodies

  2. Stephanie Louw says

    My almost 5 year old recently started crying about not being pretty and beautiful! For is she’s gorgoues with her brown eyes and beautiful curly hair…wherever she goes people comment on her beautiful brown curls and how pretty they are and still she is insecure! In trying to teach her that beauty is in her heart and not on the outside or the clothes that she wears….but it’s very hard convincing her! Any advice would be great!

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      I think that you are doing everything right. I completely understand the need to teach our girls that beauty is not just on the surface – and it isn’t by any stretch – but unless you are going to raise her without exposing her to society, it isn’t really a catch all solution. That is why my goal is to rather share with her the beauty in everybody – as opposed to pretending it isn’t a thing. Charly is unbelievably confident in how smart and kind and loving and funny she is. I have even gently talked around the fact that pretty on the outside can be irrelevant when the inside is ugly. This post really isn’t a sales thing, I am utterly in love with this range and believe that her having physical manifestations of “people” of every age, height, weight, race, hair, eye, face shape etc helps her to internalise the message that different doesn’t mean “less than”. If you haven’t yet, maybe go have a look at some of the stunning dolls you can get with gorgeous curls and brown eyes. Don’t comment on it or why you chose it, just next time you are looking to reward her or gift her something special. Hugs mama <3 We can survive this girls!!

  3. says

    Lovely post!

    I recently posted to my Instagram of how proud I am about my daughter and how confident she is with her BIG curly hair and chubby cheeks in a world where the media only paints one picture of what beauty means. I love that brands and influencers are doing the most to change this.

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