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Important Lessons Our Kids Aren’t Taught at School

Teaching My Kids Lesson of morality and values

At a tender age of four, to be able to perceive such thought must mean something serious. So I asked her what was wrong. Her explanation shocked me even more. She complained that her eyes were not purple enough, and her lips were not red enough. It wrecked my brain to find where such ideas came from.

I was a girl once, but the longing for ‘physical beauty’ only came to me at the age of twelve or thirteen. Prior to that, beauty did not exist in my vocabulary.

After having a conversation with my daughter, I got the answer. The depiction of Frozen’s character ‘Elsa’ with purple eye shadow and red, full lips had made her feel like she was not ‘girl’ enough. In fact, without such features, she actually thought she was ugly!

The incident threw me into long contemplation. Everything around us today bombards us with a similar, but very wrong idea about beauty. Wherever we turn; be it the TV, advertisement board, newspaper, magazine or the website, we get the same message.

Beauty is all about being physically impressive and dazzling. Being pretty equals being ‘visible’ to men’s eyes. So every girl must look a certain way, subscribe to a certain lifestyle and brand, and keep up with the never-ending changes of fashion.

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How would I as a mother, be able to fight all these distortions of truth when it attacks humankind from every angle, at all times?

I desperately wonder. My kids are too small and naïve to understand this, and I will not let their vulnerability be easily exploited, either by an ignorant society or a bunch of irresponsible people trying to make profits by making young girls believe that they are never beautiful enough until proven otherwise. .

I will teach my kids beauty. But my version of beauty will be different. It does not matter whether they have blue or brown eyes. It does not matter too, whether their lips are red or their hair is blond and shiny.

As a mother, I will make sure that my children have the courage to define beauty differently; no matter how isolated they will be from the rest of humankind. Real beauty neither lies in the color of the eye nor the fullness of the lip. It lies in the heart, conscience, words and deeds. It is reflected in how we live our life and interact with others.

My kids deserve to know the truth, and hopefully will live up to that principle. If they have to be different from others, let them be. I will tell them that being truthfully different is another form of beauty.

First published: April 2014

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About Raudah Mohd Yunus
Raudah Mohd Yunus is a researcher, writer and social activist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her research interests include aging, elder abuse, human trafficking and refugees health. She is the editor of two books; ‘Tales of Mothers: Of courage and love’ and ‘Displaced and Forgotten: Memoirs of refugees.’