Call me wild and crazy, but when I was a teenager, I would sometimes have the impulse to do the most bizarre things. I loved to make people laugh. Well, I probably just liked being the centre of attention, and if a person was laughing at me, they were looking at me, so I killed two birds with one stone.
When I was about fifteen and my friend Kyna was fourteen we were at the Hudson’s Bay Company store. We lived in Wawa, Ontario, a little-isolated town, two and a half hours north of the next closest city.
As we walked by the big picture window in the store, I saw an opportunity and had to grab it. I looked both ways to make sure the coast was clear, then I hopped up in the window and pretended to be a mannequin. Kyna was rolling her eyes by now and telling me to get down off of there. But I kept holding my pose and telling her she needed to join me.
We honestly didn’t know how to strike an enticing pose back then. We just put one hand on our hip and looked straight ahead…dead like a mannequin.
*You can read more about my post on what media is doing to our girls today in my post: Beauty and Selfies: Filtering Our Obsessions
Finally, Kyna hopped up on the platform and struck a pose. We had fun for five minutes as people going by would look, then look away, then their heads would snap back, and they’d stare at us, realizing something didn’t seem right. Eventually, they’d grin when they realized we were humans.
Fast forward thirty years…If you walk the malls or stores on an afternoon out, you will see an interesting phenomenon: the mannequins have stepped out of the store windows and are now walking amongst us…they are our daughters.
Mannequin-girl wears layers and layers of makeup and spends hours in front of the mirror to look like this life-size plastic doll. Many of them starve themselves to be able to obtain the long and slender limbs of an ultra-thin supermodel: but instead, end up gaining weight as their body reacts in ways they didn’t expect.
*Here is a great post called: Put Down Your Scale: Pick Up Your Fork this article is about eating more, not less, to be at a healthy body weight.
These girls also wear shoes that kill their feet, and they can barely walk on their four-inch stilettos as their legs shake and wobble. Their faces are contoured and plastered in multiple layers of foundation, which has made them into something their own families don’t recognize anymore. They watch Youtube videos which will show them and hundreds of thousands of other vulnerable girls, how they can all look alike…just like Barbie.
The Huffington Post did an article with photos of what Barbie would look like without makeup it’s quite impressive. Barbie Without Makeup: Natural Beauty Or Just Plain Tired?
Have you asked yourself why our daughters are caught up in the Mannequin-girl movement? It really boils down to preteen and teenage girls wanting to be valued and accepted by their peers, and somehow they get misguided along the way.
As parents who were new to raising teenagers, Vance and I tried to take the focus off their looks and onto their personalities and character instead. Sounds boring…I know, plus our kids knew what we were doing. But they politely listened and nodded anyway.
We had no full-length mirrors in our house, just bathroom mirrors and since our bathrooms seemed to always have someone pounding on the door wanting in…chances were, you had a total of two minutes to admire your reflection.
I thought it would be cute to get our daughters Charity and Aryanna, one of those little pink, plastic vanity sets with a stool, one Christmas. I think it had a princess sticker above the mirror. It seemed like an innocent gift, but pretty soon I was noticing one of them sitting there for long periods of time admiring her own beauty. She was formerly spending her spare time playing with her baby dolls. I could see the reflection-monster overtaking her mind, and we decided to give the vanity set away.
Vance and I were the mean parents every kid dreads. We told our daughters we preferred they didn’t wear makeup until age fifteen. Ya I know, we were out to lunch.
But something interesting happened. By the time the girls were fifteen they had lost the desire to plaster on makeup since they were older and had gained some common sense. They wore a bit every once in a while, but it wasn’t daily.
Since we had encouraged the “age 15” guideline, I was worried our daughters would rebel and go to school and hide out in the bathroom with a dozen cases of eyeshadow. It was really just trial and error as Vance, and I fumbled through parenting, hoping our ideas might be good ones and not backfire on us.
It’s hard to find a balance between being the makeup-warden and wanting our kids to feel they fit in and not stick out like a sore thumb when they are the ONLY ones who aren’t allowed to look “pretty.”
If our daughters were sneaking around at school doing the opposite of what we wanted, it was going to defeat the purpose we had in the first place. So we would tell them only one layer of makeup, not ten.
We decided to compromise instead of risking a rebellion.
When one of our daughters was around fourteen, dying your hair different colours was a popular trend among her peers. Although parents at the time, thought it was hilarious, the teenage girls thought it was cool.
We knew if we cut out all of the secular trends from her grasp she would just sit back and longingly wish she could be included in what her friends were doing. So we compromised. I bought her a piece of coloured hair you clip into your own. She wore it for a few weeks and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Then the fun wore off, and she was back to her own beautiful dark-brown hair.
This morning on Facebook I saw a hair paste a teen can put in their hair and it washes out in the shower. This seems a little less invasive then bleaching hair and then dying over it. Here’s the link: Poster Paste. This might be an option you feel comfortable letting your teen try.
Charity and Aryanna grew up and eventually became their own unique selves, to their parent’s relief. Raising five teenagers wasn’t easy, and we made lots of mistakes along the way as we figured out how to grow kids amongst the modern media and the online world our parents didn’t have to raise us in.
The best way for us to equip our kids is to keep open conversations with them on media and how it affects our world and them. You want to find a balance between completely cutting them off: and exposing them to trends and culture that will allow them to feel they can fit in with their peers, without affecting them negatively. You may have to find a middle ground you and your teen can agree on.
As adults, we may not think it’s important to fit in, but your teenager does. It helps other kids relate to your child. When they are older and gain more confidence, they will slowly make their way out of mannequin-girl world and back to being who they indeed are.
If you will just sit for a moment and go back in time, you will remember how badly you wanted to be accepted by your peers when you were younger. We all felt it and craved it.
When your daughter is addicted to looking like everyone else, keep pointing out all the lovely character traits you value in your her till she sees the truth.
Old fashioned? Yes! She will most likely roll her eyes at you, but she’ll cherish your words and store them away for later when she ditches mannequin-girl…and learns to love herself.💗
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31: 30-31
Believing and hoping,
Resources for parents, click on the links below:
Focus On The Family: A site dedicated to helping parents raise children.
Pure Flix : A site of family-friendly movies.
Plugged In: A site that rates movies.