Today I saw an article pop up in my news feed which struck a bit of chord. Pop singer Pink, who while I don’t find her music inspiring, I do think is a great role model for girls, this week accepted an award at an awards ceremony where she made an acceptance speech aimed at her six year old daughter.
Pink said her daughter had recently told her she thought she was ugly. Again, her daughter is six years old.
I will reprint Pink’s response and her speech in full below because I think it’s kickass. It’s parenting done right in my humble opinion. The issue however is not one that Pink is just dealing with.
My five year old daughter has also recently said something similar to me. A couple of months ago she came home from kindy and told me she is fat. My five year old is not fat, in fact for much of her life we have fought to keep her even on the weight percentile. That is not really the issue though. The issue is that a five year old should not even be thinking about whether or not she is fat.
I know I am super careful about the language and messages we give at home around weight and appearance. I have suffered with terrible body issues almost my entire life and I have previously written about it so I’m not going to go into it in detail again, but I do know the words fat, skinny, or any other potential negative is not used in our house. We talk about being fit and strong and eating foods to give us energy.
It broke my heart the day she came home thinking she was fat. She has since also called her three year old sister fat, which we’ve had to have a discussion around not using language to hurt people.
I know I will not be able to protect my children from these ideas as they are everywhere. I guess I thought that a five and six year old child would still be more interested in superheroes, ponies and fairies than whether they fit into a unachievable media construct.
So now that there is an awareness, I guess the next challenge is to how to build a positive body image so that my girls do not go through their lives hating their bodies, but love the power and strength their bodies have and that they can use them to achieve whatever goals they set themselves.
Pink’s speech to her daughter:
I know I don’t have a lot of time, but if I may tell you a quick story. Recently, I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me, out of the blue, ‘Mama?’ I said, ‘Yes, baby?’ She said, ‘I’m the ugliest girl I know.’ And I said, ‘Huh?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.’ And my brain went to, ‘Oh my god, you’re six. Why? Where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a 6-year-old’s ass, like what?’
But I didn’t say anything. Instead I went home and I made a Powerpoint presentation for her. And in that presentation were androgynous rockstars and artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on, wave their flag and inspire the rest of us. And these are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox and Prince and Janis Joplin and George Michael, Elton John, so many artists — her eyes glazed over. But then I said, ‘You know, I really want to know why you feel this way about yourself.’ And she said, ‘Well I look like a boy,’ and I said, ‘Well what do you think I look like?’ And she said, ‘Well you’re beautiful.’ And I was like, ‘Well, thanks. But when people make fun of me, that’s what they use. They say I look like a boy or I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions, my body is too strong.’
And I said to her, ‘Do you see me growing my hair?’ She said, ‘No, mama.’ I said, ‘Do you see me changing my body?’ ‘No, mama.’ ‘Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?’ ‘No, mama.’ ‘Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?’ ‘Yes, Mama.’ ‘OK! So, baby girl. We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.’
And to all the artists here, I’m so inspired by all of you. Thank you for being your true selves and for lighting the way for us. I’m so inspired by you guys. There’s so much rad shit happening in music. And keep doing it. Keep shining for the rest of us to see.
And you, my darling girl, are beautiful, and I love you. – PiNK