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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get Your Pretty On

That's my daughter, Shaila. No, I am not picking lice out of her hair (though sadly, I have my own memories of that and can tell you vividly what RID smells like).

Roses. RID smells like roses mixed with gasoline. And then as if someone took a whiff of those roses and then threw them in a sewer to die.

Tell you more about that another day. It's promises like this that keep you coming back for more, I just know it.

On a more positive note, going back to Shaila.

My daughter is a lot of things. On good days I call her fearless. On bad days I tell myself she takes more after her father. (I don't know why that makes me feel better, John. Just trust that it does the trick and I can get through the day better).

Lately there seems to be a lot more good than bad. Which is AWESOME, don't get me wrong. The thing is, I feel like I am constantly reminded of how everything is just a phase in childhood development. Given that rationale I might have to believe that this includes some of the good as well as the bad.

So I am going to cherish whatever sweetness I can get from her (in case it's short-lived) and inhale her sweet smell which is so much better than rubber cement.

Rubber cement smells better than RID, just in case you want to know.

And just absorb the amazing spirit she has right now.

When I look at her, this is what I see. A spunky dreamer. Kind and loving and ALWAYS willing to share her Legos. Sensitive - I caught her crying during "Ice Age" during the scene where Queen Latifah remembers where she is from.

Shaila, of course, started bawling but would only admit to having dirt in her eye.

Stubborn. Determined. Adventurous, even.

And the best laugher ever.

So my daughter, this little spitfire of a girl - well, she came home and told me something that made me sad. And that I am hoping is kind of a phase.

Listen to this.

Why does this make me anxious?

She has blonde envy.

Like, major, major blonde envy.

I don't know if you noticed, but we are pretty, well, NOT blonde. Again, we are many things and blonde just isn't one of them.

My beautiful, gorgeous BRUNETTE daughter who is four years old, already believes that blonde hair is prettier than brown or black.

She has come home recently to talk to me about one girl in particular in her pre-school class, speaking almost reverently about her "golden" hair. The precious child in question is in fact, quite a cutie. I can already guess she will be in some way connected to the Homecoming court many years from now and definitely has the makings for the cheerleader squad.

I don't remember having blonde envy as a child. I had "pretty girl" envy - which I think is pretty normal - but I grew up in a town with lots of exotic beauty. When I say "exotic," I mean white brunettes - that's about as much excitement that the town of Old Bridge, New Jersey could take when I was growing up. If you went beyond a certain level of olive in darkness, your looks were discounted.

Kind of like mine. And in those cases you hoped that you had brains and sports to carry you through because otherwise, it was a pretty non-rewarding high school existence.

So I was at the library a lot.

But being pretty is more feasible today than it was in the past. Special pills, treatments, surgeries, medical spas that can suck out your fat over lunchtime are all the trend. And why wouldnt they be? We live in a society where beauty standards have become elevated as women "fix" themselves to the point of external perfection. In this quest for beauty, so many women can chase after all the things they always wanted to be or have.

Busty - go get some big boobs. Flabby - go get that lipo done on your hips. Blonde - Dye your hair from brown to ashy blonde.

All doable and in many ways, encouraged by the images our children and yes, we women, see on the television screen.

As a young woman who never thought of myself as pretty, when I got to college and realized that a few people thought I was semi-cute, I tried to cling to those fifteen minutes of pretty as hard as I could.

And it was hard for me to keep my pretty on after I popped both kids out of my nether-regions and found myself frankly a bit traumatized by the whole thing.

I have cheated in the process to keep my pretty on. Shaila sees her Mommy who once had curly hair with Keratin'ed hair that shines and is the straight hair of my childhood dreams.

But the funny thing about dreams, especially when they are shallow in nature and reflect only the most physical change in the mirror, is that they don't really feel all that special. Not really at all, actually.

Shaila may one day want to dye her hair blonde. Or PURPLE for that matter, just to piss me off. I won't stop her from trying to satisfy this need because I did it and well, I feel like she needs to make her own mistakes. I will probably like it anyway - she is my firstborn, so unless it comes out REALLY ashy, I will still let people know she is mine.

She will hopefully learn that its a journey most women need to make in some capacity to understand that there is only so much change you can do to yourself before you stop recognizing - and perhaps - liking yourself.

Newsflash, Darling. You are gorgeous. Like so beautiful that I hurt sometimes when I look at you. I ache because I know there will be self-doubt at times or perhaps reflections of all the things you AREN'T.

No matter what, we embrace you as you are. Don't lose sight of who you are and what makes you so special. Its not going to be your hair or your sweet little dimple on your left cheek.

Its going to be your joy, your bravery and your ability to look in the mirror and always like - no, love, the person you are.

I guarantee you that if you do this, you will come farther than many people ever will.

Mommy will always hold you tight.

We cling to youth and what's not ours,
External beauty as if it matters,
In the end, what we have is deeper
Than any reflections within our mirrors - Kiran Ferrandino


Recipes from Rama said...

Dont worry about your daughter, I was born in India, brought up here and still wanted blond hair.... damn you Goldilocks. I was told that I should wash my hair with beer to make it golden in color.... I went and asked a cousin of mine to get me some( I was 7)and when my mom came to know of it there was quite a scandal.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

She is as beautiful as her mother! I was a pudgy child with dishwater blond/mousy brown hair. I longed to have dark hair and brown eyes. My skin was milky white and even a little time in the sun would burn it. We always want what we don't have! Took me 40 years to embrace myself. I am lucky enough to have a child with brown eyes and a head full of thick dark hair. And she has a daughter with those same brown eyes ....... and my hair. Genes!

gurkiran kaur said...

You just wrote what i would like to tell my daughter someday. She is turning 3 in a month and i know she will have the same questions/worries that i had growing up. :) this article just tells excatly what i feel and what i would like to teach her :)

webb said...

It makes me so mad that we have made the cult of the blonde so overwhelming - written like the brunette I am! I always wanted red, not blonde, but when I got old enough to try it, I didn't like it - just goes to show ...

All you can do is keep loving and accepting and telling her how lovely she is. Oh, and she definitely is!! Nowadays, I would give a lot for that lovely head of hair she's sporting. good luck.

Masala Chica said...

Rama - thanks for the reassurance sister. Today its blonde envy, tomorrow it may be height envy. I guess as long as she is comfortable in the skin she is in, that is the best I can do.

It would help if I was a better role model in all of this and not as concerned about those few extra pounds, whether to get my hair highlighted or if I need ANOTHER new eyeliner.

Kathy - Happy New Year sister. You are always beautiful to me, as is your granddaughter. Some kid with brown hair and brown eyes was yearning to be more like you.

Gurkiran I am glad this resonated with you. I hope to hear your voice more often!

Webb what the hell? seriously. are the blondes part of a union or something. and apparently one of the reasons they have more fun is because they like to rub it in our faces that we will never have hair like rapunzel. I call foul. what a conspiracy.

Love and strength to my sisters blonde, brunette, redhead or bald. Lets embrace our differences and the unique beauty we all possess.

cfp123 said...

This is really interesting…


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