I don't respond well to folks who fish for compliments.
"Oh, I look awful!" ...or... "I'm so fat!"
It's darn-near impossible for me to take the bait and respond with a "No, you don't! You look great!"
I like to consider myself a kind, compassionate person...but the smarty-pants response that most often pops into my mind is, "I'm sorry you feel that way."
I usually meet myself somewhere in the middle and say something along the lines of, "Please don't say that, you are a beautiful person".
And -- since having children -- I specifically want to scream, "PLEASE DON'T SAY THAT IN FRONT OF MY GIRLS!!!"
[As a side note, if you're in the throes of post-baby blues, or some other life situation, and you earnestly tell me, "I just don't feel good about myself right now," that's a completely different story. I will shower you with hugs and make you a warm beverage and do my best to help you feel better.]
But...back to the girls...particularly at this young age, I don't want my girls to hear people talking negatively about their appearances.
You read statistics about how many three- / four- / five-year olds say they need to go on a diet...how many eight-year olds don't like their noses...how many fifteen-year olds would like to have cosmetic surgery.
At our house, we try our best to focus our energies on being smart and healthy, and -- although in today's culture it may be wishful thinking -- I would love for those such thoughts to never enter our girls' minds.
I'm very passionate about this subject, recognizing I have two radiant young daughters who absorb every.single.ounce of their environment like very porous sponges.
Then why, after meeting a friend for ice cream on Saturday, did I realize that I can sometimes do a pretty rotten job of accepting a compliment???
This friend lives out of town, and I haven't seen her in a couple of years. I know I accepted her first compliment or two, but then she started denigrating herself. At the time, it was completely unconscious of my part, but I know I volunteered something along the lines of, "Well, there's a reason I don't wear bikinis anymore."
Why??? Why did I allow the conversation to progress that way?
I know on some level I was just trying to make her feel better, but I know that was not a good example for me to set for my girls.
Lesson learned...I hope.
I think it takes a very high level of consciousness to raise our children with the self-worth that we all yearn for them to have. It's easy to point to celebrity culture as the culprit...but I think certain tendencies far pervade that.
It's not just celebrity culture...it's everywhere. Four sticky kids crawling over two multi-tasking mamas, on a hot day in front of an ice cream shop...we were a long, long way from E! News.
A reminder to me to remain steadfast, and always AWARE.