Take a guess… how many selfies do you think your daughter has taken of herself? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? (Don’t worry… I’m not judging.)
If your daughter is mildly (okay, maybe massively) obsessed with taking selfies, she’s definitely not alone. It turns out the average person will take – wait for it – 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. I know, crazy right? But, that ridiculously high, totally realistic stat reported by Mashable is actually insanely true.
And, let’s face it, we all know that behind every perfectly poised selfie we see on Snapchat or Instagram, there was likely 42 other nearly identical shots taken, that for one reason or another, didn’t make the cut.
Everywhere you turn there’s someone trying to snap the perfect shot at the perfect angle, in the perfect lighting, wearing the perfect outfit, with their perfect smile, perfect hair and perfect makeup – all perfectly poised to appear perfectly casual as if they woke up looking so perfectly beautiful.
There’s “the duck face” selfie (who can resist).
The “look at me I’m so hot” selfie.
The “I’m with my bestie” selfie.
The “I’m having fun (and you’re not)” selfie.
The “look what I’m having for lunch” selfie.
The “I’m in the bathroom and I’m having an awesome hair day” selfie.
The “I just woke up looking this incredibly cute” selfie.
The “red lipstick I’m having a ball at the beach” selfie.
And, let’s not forget the “I’m so incredibly fit, check out how awesome I look in my new Nike crop top and leggings” selfie.
Am I the only parent who finds all these illusionary, ego-stroking selfies exhausting and, frankly, a bit annoying?
As a mom of two daughters, I get it. I mean, I don’t like it, but I get it. To us, it’s not just a picture, it’s an epidemic. To them, it’s everything. It’s their identity, validation, reputation, and sometimes, even their self-worth. Sure, I know… in most cases, it’s just harmless fun. But… sometimes, it isn’t.
Am I selfie-hater? Of course not. I’m fine with my girls taking a few selfies here and there. I want them to be proud of their appearance, confident enough to want to share their best attributes (within reason, of course) and carefree enough to snap (what appears to be) a candid picture of them having a great time on vacation. And, I know that taking selfies is this generation’s idea of fun and normalcy and that everyone is doing it, so what’s the harm in my girls jumping on the selfie bandwagon?
Well… I suppose I’d be far more in favor of selfies if they didn’t focus so much on appearance. I mean, wouldn’t it be amazing if a selfie could reflect a person’s kindness, honesty or patience?
But, since it can’t and because this generation’s obsession with selfies doesn’t appear to be waning any time soon, there’s something I want my girls to know…
What I need my daughters to understand, what I’m teaching them to believe and what I’m hoping they’ll one day accept as true is that hearts, likes and positive thumbs up remarks should never serve as a benchmark of their self-worth.
I want them to have the mental strength and fortitude to push through the synthetic haze of realism so prevalent in today’s society to avoid comparing themselves to a culture of distorted, flawless, idealistic standards.
Their outer appearance, although beautiful in my eyes, is merely a fraction of the true beauty they behold. Behind the selfie – underneath the clothes, makeup, hair and nail polish lies marvelously imperfect, wonderfully flawed young ladies the world deserves to see.
I want them to embrace what’s inside, not what’s outside. I want them to accept their imperfections, not reject them. And, I want them to hold the confidence to step away from the filters of social media and the construct of a perfectly cultured, happy life and give themselves the freedom to be and become who they’re meant to be without reservation, worry, fear or regret.
Pretty? Sure, I’d love it if you called my daughters pretty. But, truthfully, I’d love it more if you called them something else. Here’s 12 things I’d rather my daughters be called than pretty:
I want my daughters to be called compassionate. I want others to be inspired by how selfless they are, how they reach out to the less fortunate, how they include the person in the corner who doesn’t have any friends and how they reach into their wallets to give the homeless man on the corner enough for a hot meal or a warm blanket.
The ability to rise after a fall, smile after a letdown and never give up despite what life throws at them – that’s what I want my girls to be known for.
If you want to compliment my daughters, tell them they’re smart, that they’re well-read or that you’re impressed with their hunger for knowledge.
I want my girls to be thought of as ambitious and driven with the tenacity and fortitude to push past any obstacles they may face throughout their lives.
I want others to view my girls as fun. I want them to have the ability to laugh at themselves, take life in stride and accept their minor imperfections and idiosyncrasies with a splash of humor. I want them to be known for their warm smile, their hearty laugh, and their outgoing and fun personality. Mostly, I want them to be known for their ability to make those around them smile and laugh.
I want my daughters to be known for their confidence, their radiance, for being comfortable in their own skin, unafraid to be themselves and never having the need or desire to mirror someone else’s idea of perfection.
Someone you can turn to when you’re troubled or down. Someone who is trustworthy, understanding, kind and supportive. That’s what I’d love you to call my daughters.
I’ll be beaming with pride if you tell me my girls view the glass as half full and never as half empty and that they inherently know the sun is just beyond the horizon even if the days are dark.
I want my daughters to be known for their bravery, for never giving up, for being willing to fight for something they want and for having the courage to set an example in this world by standing up for others.
I want my daughters to be known for their originality, for being daring enough to truly be themselves, for forging their own path, for being leaders and not followers and for lifting up those around them who strive to be unconventional and different as well.
Call my daughters honest, authentic and real and I’ll be proud. Having the courage to speak their true thoughts and feelings, to show the world who they are without regret or fear and having the maturity to embrace realism and sincerity, that’s what I want my girls to be called.
I’d love my daughters to be called adventurous. Unafraid to step out of their comfort zone, willing to try new things, fearless of taking the road less traveled and open-minded enough to embrace new beginnings, changing tides and cultural shifts.
Daring enough to step out of their comfort zone, dauntless enough to travel to faraway destinations and curious enough to attend college thousands of miles away from home. My girls may still need me, they may still have some growing and maturing to do, but if you call my daughters confident, I’ll be far more proud than if you simply call them “pretty.”
"If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies… how very different our ideals of beauty would be."