May 28, 2012

Growing up Mom

We got yet another Barbie at a birthday party.  Anush ( possibly due to her conditioning) was not interested in it. Aditi wanted to play with the 'girl' and I gave in only because my mom asked me to loosen up. Soon (maybe under five minutes) Aditi lost interest and the doll met her end ( in my hands).
Looks, body image, grooming, fashion - these are issues I still wonder about as a parent.

Growing up, neither was I a tomboy nor was I a 'girlie' girl.
Make up was a no no. Because I could not (and still cannot) carry it off.
I always had short hair but I do not subscribe to the notion that it is (tom) boyish. It was/is purely a matter of comfort.
I always liked clothes. Never liked low necks/ low waisters but legs were for flaunting.
Never needed heels.
Did not like jewelry since I was careless.
Liked blue as much as I liked pink.
Liked the occasional bindi, mehendi, sari ....

Today as a mother and as a woman, there are instances, when I wonder what kind of signals I am sending the girls.
I do not want to create Mini- Me-s.
I do not want them to be tomboys.
I do not want them to think they are defined by how they look.
I do not want them to deny their right to explore their feminine side.
I do not want them to feel conscious of their looks nor use them to undue advantage.

We tell them it is more important to BE good than to LOOK good.
But we do stress on neat clothes at all times, pretty ones on occasion, comfort over style always.

I do not like clothes for kids that expose the waist. This resulted in a funny situation where Anush asked her grandma why she was wearing gandaa ( dirty) clothes when she wore a sari. Wonder what she would say to aunties who also display navels while wearing a sari!
The girls and I wear pink and blue, they see their father wearing pink, purple as well.
Their room is off white now and used to be a sunny yellow in Chennai.
Done is a neutral theme of jungle and sea animals.
So they do not have any colour bias. That is taken care of. At least for now.
I refrain from make up. I also wear lenses. So it is fairly easy to tell them I do not have lipstick , eye make up etc. Lip balm is allowed though.
As for shoes, we never had an issue since I have told them that only shorter people wear heels if at all. Though this has resulted in some hilarious bordering on embarrassing episodes. And then I offered the real healthy backing for my stand.
Do I say no to earrings, bangles, mehendi, traditional ghagras- paavadais then? No. I screen the frequency, the quality and ensure they do not look distasteful, as per my judgement. I even indulge them with the ocassioanl dress up in kids' saris etc though I am not fully for it.

When I read what I have written, I am not sure what I am trying to say. Maybe just providing a refrence for  my daughters - to let them know why their mother behaved a certain way .

- It is often found that fashionable moms have kids that do not care about decking up ( eg. my SIL)
- The opposite is also possible ( my case)
- And it is equally likely that both mom and child are into dressing up ( my other SIL)
Guess we all do what is comfortable for us as parents to accept on our kids. And they develop their own sense of self and fashion as they grow up.

And maybe we also learn a thing or two along the way about ourselves and our idiosyncrasies.


Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

Art, thank you, I loved your take on it. Though I must :( at 'Short people need to wear heels'

Choxbox said...

With you ALL the way.

Choxbox said...

LOL@Preeti! Maybe they do need to, but my excuse is that I'll trip within 60 seconds and twist my ankle :)

R's Mom said...

Totally agree to what you wrote..

But I guess it does depend on the individual especially as they grow Amma never decked up, neither do I...I dont know about the kid..she likes bindi and bangles and all, but all that is allowed only on occasions...

I think I am a bit worse than you in terms of clothes..I dislike back showing clothes for kids as well :( Dont ask me why, somehow I am not too comfortable with that...

RGB said...

I used to be like that myself...Short hair, no make-up (not even moisturiser or powder), no bangles, earrings for namesake, more of jeans & shirts,wardrobe filled with off whites, creams and such subtle shades (no bright colours), no tight clothes (my saree blouses in those college years used to look more like shirts!)and what have you!

Though with the passing of time, I think I've become slightly better when it comes to dressing-up!

I try my best not to impose my likes & dislikes / tastes & distastes on my children. There are some do's & dont's of course.

My little one seems to like dressing-up now. I'm sure she'll get over it soon. Just a passing phase...What they will be tomorrow is something we'll just have to wait and see!

I was nodding all the way, reading your post. Loved it!

PS: Pls excuse this lengthy comment that seems just as BIG as a post!

Anonymous said...

Art, such a wonderful post...and I can not agree with you more on this...for a tomboy of a mother(me) my daughter is way too girlie girl...she is right now teaching me how to dress up :) and am not complaining..


Artnavy said...

On short people need heels- no offense = compeletly simplistic explaination done thoughtlessly.

Any way the embaressing results then, made my explaination more healthy literally- about heels causing back aches etc

Artnavy said...

indu- :) we keep learning no?

rgb- nice to see ur comment- no my post was very uncharacteristically long

r's mom-
well-fitting halter necks i rather like on little girls in summer, 2 piece swin suits am not ok with even on little girls

yeah perjudiced as it may be.....

DC said...

just got around to reading this post, and i was nodding all the way through (no makeup, almost tomboy, no high heels etc).

Someone gave baby S a barbie for her first birthday and i just went mad! I didn't even let her see it for 3-4 months.. and then she found it buried under some old clothes and played with it for few minutes and lost interest. somehow i simply can NOT accept barbies.. they are just yuck!

Anonymous said...

Agree, also as you mentioned kids choose their style as we chose ours.