I’ve been having some self-esteem issues lately. I’ve been breaking out, my eyes have been kind of puffy due to a lack of sleep, and I’ve put on a bit of weight since the beginning of the summer. But, in the grand scheme of things, I have a lot to be happy about in terms of my appearance. This morning, a five-year-old girl that I babysit every day gave me some perspective about all the little things that I don’t like about myself.
I actually babysit two girls, Clara and Gracie, before and after school. They are both smart, funny, and sweet. This morning, I got to their house while they were still asleep. Their mom had already left for work when I woke them up. Clara got me to help her pick out an outfit after telling me that she wanted to wear blue that day. Gracie, on the other hand, didn’t want any help with her outfit. After they both got changed, they came down for breakfast. Clara was wearing her blue outfit, and Gracie was dressed head-to-toe in pink.
“Gracie,” I said, “Do you want to pick out a skirt to wear over your tights? You can see right through them.”
“Mmm, yeah, okay,” she replied.
Gracie went upstairs and picked out a pink skirt, pointing out that you could still see the puppies on her tights with that skirt; the puppies were the whole reason she wanted to wear those tights in the first place.
The girls spent a long time brushing their hair this morning because they had asked their mom what her hair straightener was for, and their mom had straightened their hair for them the night before to show them. They also spent a long time brushing their teeth because they had a dentist appointment after school, and they wanted to impress the dentist with how clean their teeth were. To finish getting ready, Clara picked out a fashion scarf to wear. We then left the house to head over to the school.
After dropping Clara off at the grade 2 door, I walked around the back of the school to take Gracie to the kindergarten door. While we were walking over there, a little boy stopped Gracie to ask, “Why is Clara dressed so fancy?”
“I don’t know,” replied Gracie. “Because she wants to.”
The little boy ran off and Gracie said to me, “Clara really likes wearing scarves.”
“She does look pretty stylish,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Gracie, “Clara always likes to look pretty.”
“What about you?” I asked. “Do you like to look pretty?”
“I like to look like myself.”
I was speechless for a moment. I was in awe of this little girl who probably had no idea how intelligent she sounded when she said that. Finally, I said, “That’s a really good way to feel. It’s really good that you want to look like yourself. Keep that up!”
I’ve worked with a lot of little girls when I worked in a library, and so many of them have self-esteem issues. So many of them want to look like Barbie, who has to have a makeover in her movies before she can actually go out and do anything useful. So many of them have overly-critical parents that they want to please. Knowing that at least one little girl is completely confident in who she is makes me really happy. It also made me realize that even though we all have flaws, those flaws are a part of what makes us who we are.