Will my daughters love how they look?

Through my eyes, my two daughters are of course beautiful. I will always see their beauty. But how will they appreciate their own beauty as they grow up? What will they be thinking about when they look at themselves in the mirror? I’ve started to think about this more for a number of reasons. Three-year old Big Munch starts school next year. She will enter school life and be exposed to all of the body-image issues it brings with being around so many other girls and boys. She will start building her own identity. She will become more aware of her personality as well as her looks.

img_6890

I love her innocence as she sometimes believes she looks like Elsa from Frozen. I hope she’s OK when she realises they look totally different. I worry that she is starting to define beauty in Elsa terms. I need to chill out as she’s only playing with her doll. Thank goodness there are other Disney princesses who resemble Big Munch.

As a three-year old she’s into choosing her own clothes. I let her wear her conjured up outfits (within reason). Giving her this style freedom early on is important. After all, what I wear is very important to me. My clothes give me confidence. In the Summer of 2015, I knew something was up when I wasn’t dressing like me. I soon realised I was suffering from the baby blues.

So did I love how I looked when I was a kid? Junior school was a fun and innocent era for me. For some reason, me and my pal H got away with wearing bright coloured trousers to school as long as we wore the school sweater. I gained my first ounce of cool credibility when I won the dance-off competition as the school disco. I never remember looking at my Cindy and Barbie dolls thinking “wish I looked like you…”. I don’t think it was about looks back then.

Secondary school was a different matter. Growing up I stood out in our town; my family were Mauritian. I shot up in height and looked very skinny with these gangly legs. I was picked on because of my ethnicity plus I was super skinny. That’s two sets of names to be called. People assume that skinny people must love how they look. This isn’t the case. We all self-criticise our bodies whatever shape we are. I hated my skinniness as it reminded me of the bullying. Luckily, I never despised my Mauritian roots as I appreciated the beauty of my mum, aunties and cousins around me.

During my early teens, me and my Mum tried lots of different things to help me put on weight. Nothing worked; my beanpole shape was my shape. Racist remarks dented my confidence. You can imagine how proud me and my school mates felt when I featured in a make up shoot for the teen mag Just Seventeen. The girls in the dominant so-called cool gang could not believe it. I was one of the first girls of South-Asian girls to have appeared in the magazine.

So it took many years before I started to really love how I looked. Fast forward to the age of fourteen. That’s when I found this mysterious confidence to wear clothes I liked. I broke away from my Bros fan uniform. I started to dress “my way”.  I loved my random bright-coloured charity shops finds. I started to buy my clothes from Camden Market when our Dad took us on day trips to London Town. I soon became a sneaker geek and tracked down my trainers favourite on Oxford Street.

My school friends, who to this day are like my extended family, used to say “YOU can get away with wearing that…” I quite never knew what to make of that comment. Was it a compliment as I could carry off random purchases or was it because I already looked different meant that different clothes suited me?

I luckily inherited hand-me-downs from my very cool cousin who lived with us (she’s like my big Sis). I benefited from her move to London as I then borrowed her fashionable finds from the Kings Road and Covent Garden. I started to build my own style identity. I liked how I looked although there were a few things I’d love to change like my Will Smith sticking out ears. My cousin taught me to love how I look.

I then entered the working world of modelling when I was eighteen years old. My different look was celebrated in London. My gangly legs worked in my favour. I think my ears even gave me an edge when working for the trendier magazines like I-D. High street brands featured me probably because of my ethnicity and my overall look. However, my image was open to daily criticism and that was part of the job. As I worked hard in the fashion industry I had to love how I looked. I had to feed myself that confidence.

There were a few of us South-Asian models on the scene so the fashion media was starting to acknowledge our beauty. I worked in Milan. Next stop was New York. But I faced a huge setback as the New York agency asked me to lose weight. I was shocked as I was already a size 8. I decided to head back home. That’s when I decided it was time to slowly leave modelling and focus on my MA studies. I realised I liked how I looked and didn’t want to change it.

Obviously, I never stayed slim like my modelling days. My weight changed drastically when I entered the corporate world; probably down to my excitement of having a work restaurant with the best lunch time desserts. I finally started to put on weight after meeting my first real love (now my husband). Happiness changed the way I looked and I loved it. I wanted curves. Mr.H met me when I was modelling and to this day he says I was too skinny back then. Two babies later, I have a jelly belly. Something I’d love to change but realistically it will take a lot of hard work. It does help me to celebrate being a mummy though.

I wonder about all of the influences which will encourage and discourage my daughters to love how they look. Luckily in the media there are now more role-models of South-Asian and mixed-ethnicity descent. Something I didn’t grow up with. Their friends or peer group will be a big influence. Will they be angry that they’ve inherited their dark hair and likely to be hairy arms from me? What exactly will they love about how they look?

There have been lots of things cropping up this week that have inspired this post. I’m backing up the Be Real Body Image Pledge which is supported by Dove #PledgeToBeReal. Today at a workshop, I talked with other women about our own style. We chatted about how we look, what bits of our bodies we like showing off with clothes and what we’re unsure about. I hope to influence my daughters’ self-confidence so they love every inch of their image and encourage them to find their own style. But, will my daughters love how they look?

How can you help? Anyone can help Dove to support the Be Real Body Image Pledge by sharing your body image stories and blog posts tagging  #PledgeToBeReal  and @DoveUK on social media.

Dove’s Self-Esteem Project has shared lots of ideas on how we can boost the confidence of the younger girls in our lives. Check out their website for more info. More info can be found at www.dove.co.uk

Don’t forget to check out the @BeReal_Campaign on Twitter. and over at BeRealCampaign.co.uk

Over to you…What did you like about how you looked when growing up? Was there anything you wanted to change? Is there anything you’d like to change now about how you look? What’s your confidence trick to make you feel better about how you look? Hope you get to leave a comment below….x Sunita

I created this post as a competition entry in support of Dove and the Be Real Body Image Pledge.

The Pramshed
Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Will my daughters love how they look?

  1. Chilli Regina says:

    I believe that open talk about what beauty is and how to feel beautiful is essential especially for girls. Media is maybe improving in some area but def not enough. Talk, talk, talk and give her the example of living healthy, happy life by living it yourself.
    #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angela Watling says:

    This is really interesting post. I was almost the opposite to you as a teen – I carried a bit of extra weight and struggled to lose it. It wasn’t until I got to university and started rowing that it came off and I found confidence in my body. I’m not skinny – I don’t have the bone structure to be and I’m 6ft tall – but I don’t carry too much excess body fat. But over time I have learnt to focus on health rather than weight. I’m really hoping to instill those values into my daughter. But you’re right, it’s hard. Our children will face so many external influences. I suspect a lack of body confidence to some degree might be unavoidable during the teen years when girls especially go through so much physical change. But if you are comfortable with yourself and you aren’t focussed on physical image, I’m sure this will rub off on your daughters. And if they have wobbles you’ll be there to reassure them! #CoolMumClub

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Great to hear your own experience Angela. Finding confidence in your own body can be really hard.
      Rowing is quite a skill! Incredible. Cool your daughter has a sporty mum.
      I love what you say about focussing on health. That’s so important.
      You’re right about having to deal with the wobbles too.
      I’d never want my kids hearing or seeing me criticise my own body or looks.
      #coolmumclub

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amina says:

    I often worry about what my girls will think about how they look and I pray to God they really don’t think about it as much as me! Obviously everyone wants to look good but I wish when I was younger I had not cared about it so much. I was bullied at school about my appearance and my curly hair and I think because of this the way I looked really became a big thing to me. Beauty is a passion of mine as I am a beauty blogger and makeup artist but I find make-up fun. And I hope my girls see it as just a bit of fun like I do. There is so much pressure put on girls at the moment and I want to protect them from it for as long as I can but sometimes I feel like they probably see me putting make-up on and think that’s something they will do when they are older when I really don’t want them to feel they have to because it’s the norm. I just want them to feel comfortable in their own skin as I do now. I hope I can pass on my experiences and knowledge to them so they don’t feel the way I did. Sorry for the long comment. Had to get it all out. Great post about a very interesting topic. I would love to be a part of this pledge!

    Amina xx http://Www.AliandHer.com #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Hey Amina, thanks so much for spending the time to leave your amazing comment. It’s so important to hear what you think too (and for Lucky Things readers to see others’ experiences of this).
      I love my make up and like you, I’m conscious my three-year old is asking me questions about why I use it? It’s a tough one. I can’t really say it makes me happy or it brightens up my face or it helps me to look pretty.
      Teaching our kids to feel comfortable in their own skin is one of the best things we can do.
      So please don’t apologise (ever) for a long comment – I was so pleased to see it.
      I think it would be wonderful if you write a blogpost too in support of the Be Real Campaign. The details are at the end of my blog post-everyone can join in and write about something to support the campaign (which is also supported by Superdrug, Bare Minerals, New Look and Facebook). Looking forward to checking out your blog too. thanks again and see you again soon x Sunita #coolmumclub

      Like

  4. mummuddlingthrough says:

    This is a fantastic read Sunita – what an interesting life you have had! You definitely carry a totally cool aura with you, and you seem incredibly confident.
    As a Mum to two girls I do worry about how they will perceive themselves too. Our eldest has a severe squint and wears glasses, something she quizzed from very early on (come on Disney – get a bespectacled princess!). I constantly instill in them how important it is to be kind, happy, clever and fun but I hope they don’t grow up being obsessed with ‘thin and pretty’. It’s tough out there for young girls, I’m glad I don’t have to go back there…
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Hey MMT, yep I had an interesting time growing up – especially as I looked quite different. Luckily my very close school friends were amazing and never treated me funny because of my looks!
      Like everyone, I’m not always confident. Maybe I’ve picked up some confidence tricks over the years as I know what it’s like to feel really un-confident too.
      Yes Disney def has to have a princess with glasses. They can be sparkly if need be! So many kids wear glasses from an early age (like I did -that didn’t help me either!!!). Now glasses are cool and hopefully kids feel like that too when they wear them.
      You’re right it’s tough for young girls out there. See you again soon at #coolmumclub x Sunita

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kimberly says:

    Hey Sunita,
    Such a detailed post opening up about your childhood. Credit to you for getting through some tricky times being picked on at school. Not cool.
    I think you always look wicked in everything you wear too!
    It’s a toughie with girls. I’ll have it all to come too with Little P, the whole blue/pink gender divide gets me riled too. As long as they’re happy though right? I wonder how M will deal with the way he looks when he’s older too, and I wonder why boys don’t seem quite so complicated with looks…
    Anyway, thought this was a compelling read, getting to know you even better. 🙂
    Kx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Thanks Kimberly. Ha ha you’ve seen me preggers and post-baby. You know how much I love my outfits regardless of what shape I am!
      The pink/blue thing is a weird one. Girls still seem to end up being into pink, maybe because of nursery. You’re right, it will be interesting to see how lil M deals with the whole looks thing. Anyway in the meantime, we’ll do our best and remind them they’re amazing human beings however they look! Lots of love xx

      Like

  6. themotherhub says:

    God it’s so difficult isn’t it. My daughter is only three but like you I feel so conscious about the whole body image thing. She’s going through a princess phase at the moment – hopefully it is just a phase but I’m going to buy her a Lottie doll for Xmas that are dolls shape of small girls rather than strangely shaped women! The pledge to be real campaign is excellent – if we can promote body confidence in ourselves our daughters will hopefully learn from us. It is hard though #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      You’re so right. Princess phases are interesting aren’t they? That’s handy to know about Lottie dolls. Hoping that you’ll also have time to write a little post for the #PledgeToBeReal campaign as you’re a brilliant writer #fortheloveofblog

      Like

  7. Helen - Talking Mums says:

    Hi Sunita
    I always find it heartbreaking to hear how people seem to find it ok to make others not like themselves. So glad you learned to love yourself. I too worry about my children and how they will feel about themselves as they grow and develop in this very public world. I can only hope for great (REAL) role models for them. However I think a child’s biggest role models are their parents. Maybe I need to work on being positive about myself?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Hey Helen, thanks for stopping by. Yes kids can be cruel and I hope that if my girls have to deal with any name-calling they will be know how to ignore it. Totally agree that we want real role models for them. Agree that their biggest roles models are us! no pressure eh?? #fortheloveofblog

      Like

  8. Lucy's Locket says:

    This is really interesting. I’ve also hoped my daughter feels happy in her own skin. She is absolutely beautiful in my eyes.
    Growing up I always hated my freckles and wanted to get rid of them. Other than that I’ve been pretty comfortable with my body. I feel even more comfortable after having had my daughter. I grew a human inside my body! I’ll take stretch marks and a jelly belly for that anyway! #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Thanks so much Lucy. Great to hear what you think too. It’s funny how we always find something we don’t like about ourselves. If we’re lucky, we soon realise it’s not something we really need to worry about. Our bodies are incredible!! Yes, can you believe we produced these little people. I love my jelly belly now, think it’s here to stay 🙂 #fortheloveofblog

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Winnettes says:

    Having two daughters this subject is often in the forefront of my mind. I let Pinky choose what she wears (she doesn’t give me any choice anymore) and it helos her. She even chooses all of her clothes we buy. I didn’t help with the Elsa thing, I ask her if she wants ‘Elsa hair’ today. Or ‘Anna’ hair. She has no idea she doesn’t actually look like them and at the moment it helps her sit still so I can get her hair up and out of the way. I love this campaign from Dove, everyone has something they don’t like about their bodies but it is always unnecessary. I know I need to learn to love myself a little more if I want my daughters to do the same. I love your style so I can see why the London scene embraced it!
    #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      It’s a tricky one as we also have Elsa and Anna hair options in our house too. It’s just a way of describing hairstyles I guess. Ah thanks for the lovely compliment. It’s nice that we can all celebrate our uniqueness! #fortheloveofblog

      Liked by 1 person

  10. alifeinpracticeblog.com says:

    This is a great pot, I recently made the decision to lose weight as I wasn’t feeling happy or healthy after having my second baby. I lost 2 stone over all and am now happy with how I look and feel healthy and strong again. My eldest just turned 4 and the whole time i was dieting and exercising I was very careful to never say i felt fat or ugly or needed to lose weight for those reasons in front of him, I always said it was to make me strong again and help my body feel healthy again. #unpocodetodouk

    Like

    • Sunita says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Wow that’s amazing you lost 2 stone and that you feel healthier and stronger. We all need to do what’s right for us and our bodies. Being healthy is so important especially when we have little ones to look after too. #fortheloveofblog

      Like

  11. twotinyhands says:

    Ahh such a strong positive story. You worry about your girls but I think all you have experienced will help you guide them. It’s a brilliant campaign! Thanks #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunita says:

      Thanks so much TwoTinyHands. Lovely to hear what you think of this positive story. I do believe no one’s life is perfect and it’s about how we deal with the hiccups or challenges along the way. hope you also get to write a post for the campaign #fortheloveofblog

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s