Friday, August 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: The Daughter Becomes The Teacher

Is there anything that strikes as much fear into the hearts of mothers of teenage girls as clothes shopping? It's such a loaded, slippery activity -- essentially, a minefield of opportunities to mess up your daughter's self-esteem forever.

Or at least it feels that way sometimes.

Maybe it's not that dramatic, but it's still intimidating to me -- and to a lot of moms I know. As I wrote in You'd Be So Pretty If..., shopping trips with my mom were often filled with "helpful" comments about what would look good on my figure. My mother meant well, for sure, but her own wardrobe was all about camouflaging what she felt were her flaws and frankly, she taught me to do the same. Choosing clothes was always about hiding the worst of me rather than accentuating the best of me.

It's been a very tough habit to break for myself. But I'm working hard to change that attitude in my daughter.

During a trip to the mall this weekend, we came upon a fabulous clearance sale. She needs new clothes for school, so I encouraged her to search the racks and try on anything she remotely liked. We left with an armful of clothes that look great on her -- at an exceptionally good price, I might add -- but more important than my savings was the fact that she loves these clothes so much, she couldn't wait to wear them. A new cheetah-print tank top, which we agreed would look lovely under a red sweater for school, was worn to yesterday's beach party.

This morning she told me, "I just love my cheetah shirt. I'm going to wear it again today." And I wondered: When was the last time I loved a piece of clothing so much that I didn't want to take it off?

I'm thrilled that my conscious effort to change my behavior is affecting my daughter this way -- that she's choosing clothes she feels she looks great in, instead of picking things that hide what she feels are her flaws. When you think about it, it's a fairly monumental shift in attitude.

The real beauty of all this, though, is that she's inspired me. I could use some new clothes, so when I head out to the store, my mission is this: To find only clothes that I love, that make me feel great about the body I have today.

And to never try to hide again.
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