Category Archives: Blog Posts

Enough! What Are We Teaching Our Girls?

I heard a commercial on the radio the other day. It started out sounding so empowering and encouraging. A nice young woman began by saying something like, “Do you struggle with insecurities and low self-esteem? Do you sometimes feel bad about yourself?” My ears instantly perked up. I was so excited that my favorite topic, healthy self-esteem, was finally being addressed—that someone was bold enough to advertise and advocate for self-confidence right there on the radio! I eagerly awaited the name of some tremendous life coach or a mentoring program for girls. I just knew something great was coming. And then she said, “Have you considered breast implants?” I could not believe it. I was in shock. Then she went on to sell the wonderful sense of empowerment that comes from breast augmentation. Then, the plastic surgeon came on to really drive the message home.

AM I ENOUGH?

I’ll be honest, it hurt my heart to hear them use ones deep feelings of insecurity—their deep-seated belief of, “I am not enough,” to sell breast implants. Imagine a young lady who is struggling with her sense of self-worth, hearing this commercial, opening herself up in anticipation of a solution to her insecurities, only to be offered another reason to look in the mirror and wonder to herself, “Am I enough?” 

What are we teaching our daughters? How will she know she is enough?

Of course, from a business perspective, I get it. The radio stations need advertising dollars so they’ll air the commercial. And I have a bachelor’s in advertising so I know that the plastic surgeon’s ad agency did an amazing job of getting to the core issue that will, no doubt, lead to A LOT of consultation appointments… But my heart still hurts.

It is hard for me as a mother of a beautiful little girl, who is beginning to notice differences between herself and those around her. She is at that point where meanings are placed on those differences. I can’t help but think, “My daughter could have been in the car when that commercial came on.” And what would I have said to her to combat that message? I mean, we listen to that station every day, and the way that the commercial started, I was eagerly expecting something good and empowering. I would have totally let it play to “see” what was coming next.

What new belief could I have possibly introduced to my daughter’s impressionable mind? Without thought, I could have unintentionally poisoned my daughter’s self-concept, and left her questioning if she is enough. What about all the preteen girls… and high school girls… and college girls… and even adult women who will hear that commercial and actually begin to believe (if they don’t already) that bigger boobs will be the cure for their low self-esteem?

YOU ARE ENOUGH

For me it’s always more about the message than anything. Despite my outrage, I am not completely against plastic surgery. Honestly, someone dear to me has breast implants and I totally supported her decision. She chose to have her surgery based purely on a fact, not on a hope.  She did not have some unrealistic belief that if she had the surgery, she would feel better about herself. She already felt great about herself. She is far from insecure and purely wanted bigger…. ones. This is why I was able to freely and honestly support her.

What I don’t support, is selling plastic surgery, or fake hair, or tanning, or bleaching, or contouring, etc. as a cure for low self-esteem. I’m an advocate for first learning to love the skin that you’re in. Because no amount of surgery will help a person to feel that she is enough. If that underlying belief is not cut away first, and replaced with “I am enough,” she can nip this and tuck that until she is grossly deformed and will still never feel beautiful. And ultimately isn’t that what it’s all about?

Marisa Peer is an internationally known therapist whose work I’ve come across recently. She teaches that looking at yourself in the mirror while repeating the affirmation, “I am enough,” can have a tremendously healing effect on one’s self-concept. I recently added my own version of this exercise in my S.I.S.T.A.TM Girls’ Empowerment Workshops. One young lady came back to talk to me after our session and told me that was her favorite part. In my workshops, I have the girls affirm each other, then affirm themselves. It is such a powerful time. I really get to see how uncomfortable it is for some of them to accept the attention and the words, “You are enough.” So, of course, I’ll keep doing it until they are comfortable saying it and hearing it.

Blessings!

If you would like Author Marlene Dillon to visit your institution, please shoot us an email at events@improudtobenaturalme.com!

Resources, Tips, & More!

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is an awesome resource for parents, as it was written to help parents begin the important conversation of self-esteem with their children. In addition to the book, here are few blog posts, resources, and links that may also prove helpful.

free worksheets!

Natural Me! 100 Fry Sight Words Flashcards 

Simply click/tap the image below to download the NEW! I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! Fry Sight Words Flashcards! Print on cardstock (or regular paper) and cut along the lines! 

 

Kids bored? Click/tap here for Natural Me! Coloring Sheets!

Know of some great resources for parents? Comment below.

Natural Hair Kids Book Download

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! $1 DOWNLOAD!

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! has helped numerous children to love and embrace themselves as is. This book is an amazing tool for parents to prompt discussions about natural beauty and diversity.

DOWNLOAD NOW For only $1! 

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Great news for natural hair kids and parents! Now, you can download I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! for ONLY $1!

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is an empowering children’s book, written by a mom, to teach children that “we are ALL beautiful as is.” Check out the FAQs below to learn more!

Q. What is the target age/audience for this book? 

A. Although, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is a picture book, its message of healthy self-esteem and powerful affirmation, make it a valuable resource for older children, as well. Children with naturally curly hair tend to identify well with the images, but the message is not exclusive to one group or another. 

Q. Why are you offering a $1 download? 

A. An inexpensive download is a great way to give back. So many families are dealing with financial challenges. It allows parents to view the entire book before purchasing. Also, utilizing the social media links below parents can easily share this offer with their friends and family members!  

Q. Are you “natural,” and what does that even mean?

A. Yes. I am “natural.” I stopped chemically straightening my hair in 2002. I have embraced my naturally curly hair and teach my daughter to do the same. 

Q. My child doesn’t have curly hair or brown skin, will she enjoy this book?

A. Yes. The message of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is that “we are ALL beautiful as is.” The intention is to teach children that all our diverse traits are beautiful, which is a message that anyone, regardless of skin tone or hair texture can identify with.

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This beautiful girl is 10 years old. She told me she is going to read her book every morning before school because she is teased daily for being “natural.”

“There are so many children hurting because they do not love themselves. Many are teased at school for wearing their hair in natural styles, and many others have low self-esteem because they ‘look different’ from their family members, neighbors, and classmates. It is my hope that with this really inexpensive download, more parents will utilize this awesome resource and tell their friends, family, and parent groups to visit and download a copy, as well.” —Marlene Dillon, Author 

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Want a preview? Check out the trailer on the right sidebar.

A $10 Value! Download NOW for JUST $1!

Mommy I Want My Hair Straightened

What are the six words you don’t say to your mother when she’s the author of a children’s book about loving your natural hair? “Mommy, I want my hair straightened.”

Has she even met me? I was clearly having a Twilight Zone moment. I could’ve passed out! I mean, after all our conversations about loving our hair, and all the workshops I’ve held teaching parents and children to celebrate the beauty of our natural beauty, my child had the nerve to say those words to me TWO DAYS AGO!

I’ll be honest, when I first heard those words come out her mouth, I panicked. I started to frantically question myself. “Where did I go wrong? Am I a fraud?” I thought, “I wrote this book and my own child is having identity issues… Oh, God, maybe I shouldn’t have put her in this new school. She never had these issues at her neighborhood school. Did I make a mistake?” My mind was going 60 miles per hour, with question after question. And, of course, while I’m having this full discussion in my head, she—in true 5 year old fashion—was repeating in her most endearing whine, “I want my hair straightened. I want my hair straightened. I want my hair straightened….” I needed some answers before I could respond…

Seek understanding before seeking to be understood.

I stepped out of my haze, temporarily, and asked her, “Why do you want straight hair?” (There was definitely a slight hint of irritation in my voice.) She, not the least bothered by my tone, sang the praises of the tresses she longed for…. “straight hair is sooo soft and it’s sooo beautiful…” I could’ve thrown up. I’m just being honest. It’s not that I don’t believe straight hair is soft, but curly hair is soft, too. I am not one to go on a “Black is beautiful” rant, to the exclusion of other “races.” I think we’re all beautiful. With that said, I strongly believe that it is essential that my child knows her hair and all other features are just as beautiful as anyone else’s—that her classmates’ hair textures are merely different, but not better (or worse) than hers.

Think before you speak.

So many things were running through my mind, and I had heard enough. I blurted out, “Your hair is beautiful and I’m not straightening it!” Oops. Wrong move. Immediately, hysterical screaming pierced the silence her tears began to flow. My little girl was having a meltdown at 7 o’clock in the morning, blubbering and begging me to take her to Target to buy a flat iron before school. Can you imagine? Did I mention SHE IS 5 YEARS OLD?

Shift from fear to curiosity.

I took a real long, deep breath, and thought to myself, “What have I told the parents at my workshops when they ask about this?” This topic comes up all the time, but in the moment, with my own child all of it went out the window… initially. I thought about it a little harder, then remembered. I told them to celebrate the benefits of their child’s hair texture, to teach them about their own hair and the great qualities it has. And that’s what I did. 

Reconnect.

I snapped out of my moment and reminded myself that right then was really about her, and what she felt was a real need. Straightening her hair is not debatable at this age. I knew for sure that was not going to happen, and I needed to help her understand why. As she continued to chant through blubbering tears, “I want my hair straightened,” I dramatically grabbed my chest like Fred Sanford, slumped over, and pretended to pass out. lol I needed to break the tension and shift her energy. She laughed, even though she didn’t want to. This gave me my “in” to tell her how I really felt… 

Tell the truth. 

I said, “Your hair is beautiful.” She responded, “No, it’s not!” I said, “Your curls are so pretty.” She replied through tears, “I hate my curly hair. I want it straight!” It wasn’t working, but I kept going. I told her that her hair texture allows her the flexibility to do so many different styles. I explained to her that “natural hair” does things that straight hair doesn’t. (I told her this as a fact, without making it seem as if curly hair is better than straight.) She began to calm down. I shared stories with her of former co-workers who asked me to two- strand twist their hair, and how I told them that their hair wouldn’t be able to hold the style. She began to ask questions about other experiences like that…. I talked to her until she began to feel blessed to have her hair texture and was no longer envious of anyone else’s….

I did such a good job that she now wants me to do this style!  

 

Photo Source: hairstylepictures2015.com

Lord, help me. lol

 

Although it caught me off guard initially, it is not uncommon for our children (or for ourselves) to desire to look like someone they admire, or to want to “fit in” by looking more like their peers. I believe it is our job to help our kids see value in being themselves—to teach them that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”

Marlene Dillon,

Author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!