teaching my kids self-confidence through style
Style lessons from a mom to her kids
“Mom I want the black one.” [record scratch]
“Wait, what? Why? You don’t even like black. You love purple, so why don’t you get that one?”
But I knew why. I LOVE BLACK, and everyone who knows me even a little knows that. My little girl wants so much to be like me that her entire life has been a battle between us to keep her from marinating in my perfume, taking my jewelry,
ruining playing in my makeup, squirreling away my things, and sometimes trying to copy my style, even though it’s definitely not her style. Back in kindergarten, she even cut her own hair to copy my pixie hairstyle.
As a mom it’s common to unconsciously impose our own style preferences on our kids, but the truth is, I’ve always let them pick their own clothes and hairstyles. I don’t want an army of clones, and I want them to feel the empowerment of embracing their own unique styles.
With three sons and three daughters who are very different from one another, I’m keenly aware of the messages pummeling them daily from the media, friends, social media, and more. Though they range in age from six to thirteen, the messages reach them all.
Earlier this week I shared the minimalist capsule wardrobe lessons I learned from my mom, and today I’m sharing the style lessons I try to teach my own kids.
Your body is perfect
I was driving my daughter and a few of her tween friends to lunch between call times at a dance competition, and eavesdropped as they discussed makeup in the back seat. I heard my oldest say, “I like the way I look with makeup on, but I’m actually just as pretty without it. My mom told me that, and she’s right.”
It was all I could do not to slam on the breaks, jump out and squeeze her as hard as I could and scream, “Yes!!! Yes!! And I hope you believe me forever, because it’s true!!”
Even though I can claim that win, I am shocked by other things I hear my kids say about their bodies at such young ages, and I don’t mean just my girls. Around the age of eleven my boys started talking about six-packs, biceps, and flab, and poking and flexing their muscles. As siblings, especially multiples, are prone to do, they compare themselves to each other. He’s taller, she’s blonder, he’s faster, she’s more graceful, but they are all perfectly…them.
My broken record plays daily, “Your body is perfect for you, and his body is perfect for him. There are 1 billion perfect bodies out there.” Each of my kids has a very different body type and different abilities, and I hope my message is louder than the one they hear outside our home.
The media holds up an impossible, highlighted, contoured, Photoshopped ideal of beauty that doesn’t even exist, and many people believe it and pursue it. It’s hard not to, even as an adult who KNOWS it’s a lie, and I hope my message to my kids finally sinks in and stays with them forever.
One of the best things I ever heard was from Justine LeConte when she said, “Do I have small teeth? No. I have a big smile.”
FAshion is fun so wear what you love
So much of life is serious, boring, and predictable, but fashion is one place we can have fun! Let your creativity shine, let inspiration strike, let your personality show, let fashion be a bright spot in your day! The older we get the less entitled we feel to enjoy things. Fun feels frivolous, but without a little frivolity, life gets hard.
We gave up our crayons in grade school, our paints in middle school, and for some of us, clothes are the only creative outlet we still have, and we can access it every day.
The only true style rule I have is wear what you love. Just like the false ideal body message, fashion trends pierce our minds with the command to assimilate or be unacceptable. If you’re not in, you’re out. Whether you like it or not, whether it suits you or not, whether it’s practical or not, the trends must be worn!
Um, no. Let’s scratch that. Wear what you love! As long as it suits you and your style, it’s in style. The only person I dress for is myself, and as long as I love it, it’s a win!
My youngest puts together some really wild combinations, and I love to see her experimenting and having fun, trying things out and deciding what she loves. We should play dress up forever!
Break the rules and don't be afraid to experiment
I love to learn rules, and once I know all the rules, I decide which ones to break. We all go through stages of letting others tell us what we can and can’t wear, whether it’s the media, friends or a style guru, and I decided a few years ago I wouldn’t do that anymore. I had eliminated different colors, patterns, and styles from my wardrobe because others said I “shouldn’t” wear them, and now I make my own choices.
Even though I know my personal style, how to dress for my body type, and my best colors, nothing is written in stone. I still like to experiment with new colors, patterns, trends, and details to see if I find something new to love. Putting together what you truly love and ignoring the rules that others have created is how you get your own unique style, and that is always perfect for you.
Take what you find valuable and helpful, and ignore the rest.
You are a walking billboard
Whether we like it or not, whether it’s fair or not, people judge us based on our appearance, because our personalities aren’t on display. But they can be if you dress to represent who you are, how you want to be treated, and what message you want to send. Clothes can be a powerful tool that can change your life and relationships. I call it truth in advertising when my outside matches my insides, and life is less complicated.
When you see me, it’s obvious I have a bold personality, strong opinions, sharp edges, and I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I’m very black and white, on or off, and I mean business. No one is shocked when I open my mouth. You know what to expect from me, and it’s not softness.
Each of my kids is unique, and though the wrong messages are hitting them from every direction, I want them to love who they are, how they look, and be free to express themselves through their style. If they take that power to themselves, it will trickle into the rest of their lives.