Sunday, December 7, 2014

Child Abuse

Perhaps the greatest challenge every little girl will face ... self-acceptance.
Perhaps the greatest impediment every little girl will face ... the opinion of others.

Abuse by cultural norms, more
than the sun rising.
In western culture particularly, a woman's hyper-awareness of appearance is imposed on her and persists for a lifetime.  It stems from her earliest years when she was introduced to pretty, cute, style, fashion, and a comparison of herself to others on that scale.

In middle-school and later, she will live in a world where the top percentage of girls, generally based on physical appearance and dress, will receive the most attention, the most encouragement, the most approval, and the best support for their self-image and acceptance.  The farther down the percentage-ladder a girl finds herself, the greater her difficulty in accepting herself, and the greater the likelihood of her struggling to find a place of acceptance in her social surroundings.

Her position on that ladder will tend to shape her entire life along a narrow pathway with only a few exits available through the years. Surprisingly, the cultural shaping adversely affects them all, regardless of their position on the ladder.  Insecurities and coping difficulties are likely to persist throughout their lives.

Young men face a similar battle, but are less encumbered by the same appearance issues.

For today's westernized woman, her natural face is rarely seen in public. Her natural hair is rarely good enough on its own.  She will spend innumerable hours attending to such things as a function of being accepted in her world, equating appearance with worth.

The alternative?

The key piece that appears to make the most difference is a strong, healthy family coupled with education and broad opportunity.  The farther she goes along the path of personal development, built on healthy support by mom and dad and extended family, the healthier her self-image will be.  It gives her the freedom to be a person of substance.  True?

Children have no choice of where they are born.  No choice about the family in which they are raised, the community in which they live, or the things they experience in the early years.

The universally available choices fall to mom and dad; they shape the world in which their children are formed.  A father who loves and enjoys her for the person she is; a mom who does the same and doesn't make a big deal about cutesy fashion or perfect hair ... it's the opportunity of a lifetime, literally.

There are many variables within a culture and more across cultural lines, of course, and all can be significant.  Too, the struggle might become an occasion of strengthening and personal growth.
Curious how your culture thinks?  Google images for 'magnificent women' and  'magnificent men', or just 'man' and 'woman'.