When I was young, I would see commercials for RIF: Reading Is Fundamental. The ad showed a bookmobile arriving in a neighborhood, and a child (I think a boy, but it’s been a while) would select a book with the title “I Am Somebody!”
This weekend, I took Baguette to the mall. Toddlers need to toddle, but not outside when it’s 104 degrees in the shade. At one point, I glanced into a store filled with tween clothes and saw a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Future Mrs. Bieber.”
Now, I have no real issue with Justin Bieber. He seems to fit in with the same Tiger Beat/Teen Beat pop stars that I remember from my own childhood, also of great appeal to the tweener age group.
And I believe that a good marriage is a good thing. Mr. Sandwich and I put each other first and consider our marriage to be something that we both contribute to (one of my co-workers once said, “It’s not even like they’re married. They’re a team, like Batman and Robin”–I’m not sure I’d pick that prototype, but I appreciate the sentiment).
But that shirt just made me angry. Because what it says to me is, “I don’t need my own identity as long as I’m someone’s wife.” And that is not what I want to teach Baguette. It’s not what I want to teach anyone’s daughter.
Mr. Sandwich and I want Baguette to love herself just as she is, and believe that she has intrinsic human value. We want her to feel confident in her own worth, not feel that she gains importance based on who decided to tolerate her presence. So the question for us is: how do we do that?
I think we do that the way we teach her everything else: by telling her outright, and modeling behavior. For me, that means accepting and loving myself just as I am, so that as her first female role model (and as her mother, that’s exactly what I am), I present an example of love, compassion, strength, and self-confidence. I know I’m not a supermodel, but I’m far from a troll. Are there things I would change about myself and my appearance? Sure, but I don’t think that those things make me a lesser human being. I know very well that appearance is literally the surface of who we are, and I believe that character is much more–and much more important–than size or shape.
I know a lot of women who are distressed by their stretch marks after giving birth. I have them, and while it’s not like I jumped up and down for joy when they appeared, I also have suffered not one moment of anxiety that they exist. I always expected to get them–and they’re a natural after-effect of having a child. And beyond that, they show where Baguette used to live. So while it would be nice to have a smooth, flat stomach, I absolutely would not trade the one I have.
I hope that if I accept myself and my human imperfections, it will be easier for Baguette to do the same. Because I don’t want her to consider herself the “future Mrs. Anybody.” I’d much rather she think, “I Am Somebody!”
Photo by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent), via Flickr.