Monday, December 9, 2013

Ten Things I Want My Boys To Know About Girls

"Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!

Those words don’t sound particularly offensive to me (I find them much better than the “earn your bagel” I heard recently in spin class) but they pissed another mom off. She was in a workout class and the instructor shouted them out. I’m sure the instructor was trying to motivate but Brynn Harrison thinks exercise, for herself and her daughter, should be for the love of it and not to fit in a dress. I say why do we have to choose?

My mother taught me how delicious homemade tomato sauce is, she enrolled me in tennis and swim lessons, she encouraged me to taste, see and do. My mother also worked really hard running her own business. She knew what matters (and still does) but when I close my eyes and picture my mother growing up she’s in white short shorts and a white top, with big round (white) sunglasses leaning against her sports car. My mom was a babe, I grew up aware of this but she was a babe who did it all.

Since when does delighting in what our bodies can do and what our senses can take in mean that feeling great in a dress or on the beach is off limits? It doesn’t. There is this trend in the blogosphere that holds that in order to shield young girls from all the body messaging they receive they need to solely focus on what their bodies can do.

As a mother of boys, I come across very little about boys and their bodies (thought I’m reading a great book now, more on that later) or the role boys can play in girls’ self esteem. I started thinking about what I wanted them to know about girls and later girlfriends and women:

10 things I want my boys to know about girls
  1. Never think girls are either outdoorsy or glamorous. You have days you hang out in your PJs and nicer clothing for piano recitals.  A girl can love to go hiking and then want to feel pretty in a party dress.
  2. If a girl asks you “how do I look” answer with “great” or “amazing” or if you don’t honestly think that find something to compliment…her outfit, her hair or her smile. Everyone likes compliments as long as they are truthful.
  3. Watch how girls are with their friends, waiters and taxi drivers. Rude or mean isn’t ever cool or funny. And don’t ever be rude or mean to impress a girl.
  4. People are not checklists.  You’re not looking for a certain look or a certain height you’re looking for a person that you think about when they’re not around.
  5. When you’re with the right person you don’t have to choose between them and your friends.
  6. You already have a shadow, look for someone who has things she likes to do. It’s even more fun if her hobbies aren’t the same as yours. If she doesn’t like to do anything…uh oh. And keep playing hockey and piano as long as you enjoy it.
  7. You’re not a supermodel and chances are you will not date one. You’re handsome as can be but don’t have abs like the men’s magazines. Don’t expect any girl's body parts to look like Brooklyn Decker or Sophia Vergara (Myles wink, wink).
  8. I know things move quickly these days but holding hands is never out of style, neither is holding the door open.
  9. “I love you” is sacred but if you feel it always say it. 
And for the record, I liked most of what Brynn had to say to her daughter especially
"Nature rules.  And if you’re able to hike/run/bike/swim/ski/snowshoe, you can see more of it."
She would probably slap me but I’m putting on some tinted moisturizer and lip gloss before hitting the slopes today and I do care how my ski pants look and feel.
How did your parents inform you about your body growing up? Would you have been bothered by the fitness instructor’s words? Do you shy away from discussing the “outside” or looks with your daughter? What advice do you give your sons on all of this? 
I will be doing the amazing Sarah Stanley's Wellness Chat Thursday 12/12 at 8pm EST the topic is Breaking Old Holiday Habits, please join, ask questions etc.


  1. "Earn that bagel?" Too funny. In LA it would have been "Earn that smoothie!"

    Not sure how I'll deal with the looks topic with Maya...I think I have a few years to go.

    Homemade tomato sauce? Sounds amazing.

  2. these are things that I want all guys to know about when it comes to girls..thanks for this!!

    also don't think I would have been bothered by the fitness instructor's words.. feeling good and looking good does a lot for your self esteem (you wrote about vanity before) and I absolutely agree in that we don't have to choose between looking good and feeling good getting there (loving exercise for what it is)

  3. This is so outstanding, Lauren! Love it. Your boys are really lucky.

  4. I love number 4 - great advice for everyone!

  5. I do too and truth is women are just as guilty as that. I used to hear friends say I want this and this and this in a mate and I would say "how about nice".

  6. Sometimes they are lucky and sometimes they aren't Marie.

  7. Ha ha so many single ladies are saying that.

  8. I loved #7. I recently read an article about how men are being raised by their parents, more and more often, to believe they are entitled to the most beautiful/supermodel. And unfortunately, are unhappy or unsatisfied when they don't get this.. I definitely like the idea of working to give men a realistic expectation of women.

  9. Thanks Whitney, yes men need to have realistic expectations of women and their own looks too.

  10. I like this list a lot!

    I've talked with my older son a lot about ultimately finding someone you can picture yourself growing old with. Someone you love to talk to, who is kind, who makes you want to be a better person. He is only 22, so he has time to find "the one." But I think it's something to think about.

    I've heard the phrase "Work hard so you can eat _______" in exercise classes before, and I never really liked it. I don't have so much a problem with exercising to look good (even though it is truly mostly about feeling good for me at this point). Something just bugs me about working out so you can eat a certain food. I think it can also send the wrong message to some people as you really can't out-exercise a poor diet... Not saying that a bagel is bad, but I think so often people think because they exercised they can eat "whatever."

  11. Jess @ Keeping It Real FoodDecember 9, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Wow, I love this! I can think of a lot of adult men who could benefit from reading your list too.

    Unfortunately, I witnessed a lot of body-shaming as a kid. My mom was always trash-talking herself, and her mother had negative things to say about both of them. It was crazy because my mom is beautiful on the inside and out but was surrounded by people who always took the time to point out her imperfections. Fortunately, it's gotten better, but it still bums me out when I hear my mom say something about herself that she'd never say about another person! I never understood that, even as a kid. Having a dad in the music industry who would bring home press kits and talk about how certain women were "too ugly" or "too old" to be successful was certainly not helpful.

    Haha this is probably why I became a workaholic at an early age—I never wanted to have to worry about relying on (and losing) "my looks." The only thing I'm legitimately shallow about is teeth.

  12. I haven't yet had to have this kind of discussion with my son (he's only 7), but I know that I will...and it's not that far off. This is a great list and it's very useful. I'm usually pretty confident in helping him to have enough confidence and teaching him to eat healthy without going nuts with food issues, but being sensitive to other people's issues (especially girls) is another story. And so important!

    Frankly I got next to nothing about my body image from my parents, although I never did have huge body issues (just the usual teenage stuff like wanting bigger boobs or smaller thighs) growing up. Maybe they did do something right and I just never realized it!

  13. I love what you and Brynn BOTH have to say! I agree, nothing wrong at all with wanting to look good, but I do think we are all bombarded by so many "looking good on the outside" messages these days, that I put much more of an emphasis on exercising and eating well, for both my daughter and my son, as a way to feel healthy and strong and to be beautiful on the "inside". That being said, I'm noticing my 12 yo daughter has been swiping my lip gloss and hair conditioning spray lately, plus a curling iron is at the top of her Christmas list, but she also loves playing soccer, wearing shorts and sweats, and says she's not a "girly girl" :-)

  14. Curling iron, soccer and sweats perfect. Curious EA if you'd be put off by an instructor saying words mentioned above...

  15. I didn't get body image stuff either Jen and I think the key is neither of us then received bad body image "stuff". However, I grew up with a confident, non diety mom and I sister and I joke that we're not the flaunty, super confident types so who knows...

  16. This is exactly what I referred to in my comment above. Maybe you were shielded somewhat that her comments were self directed vrs directed your way? I think not relying on looks is great, also interesting you went the opposite way from your mom (I think I did too) ooh another theory.

  17. It beyond "bugs" me. If working out to look good is offensive, working out to then be unhealthy is right up there. I don't know about your 22 year old but when I was 22 I could barely picture 23..."getting old" was a long way away.

  18. Clare @ Fitting It All InDecember 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I adore this.