Raising Boys To Value Women Starts With Us

Date: February 16, 2015

posted by Women Enough / Comments: 7 Comments / Tags: , , , ,

Valerie Boucher

As a mother of three boys I never really felt that concerned about the campaigns where the focus was on how to raise young girls and empower them with self esteem, how it is important to change the message that the fashion industry sends and how we need to start changing our own behaviors as mothers to set an example.

But then one day we were looking at a movie and one of my boys said that this actress was fat. As I looked at the screen I could not believe my eyes. This character was far from being fat. In fact, she was a very beautiful lady who in my eyes was just glowing.

That was a wakeup call for me. That is when I realised that being the mother of three boys I had a responsibility as well. To teach them what is real beauty. What a real woman looks like.

As they grow into young men, I decided that since they will be the ones looking at their wives in the future I need to make them see what I believe beauty is. And it needs to start at home, with me, how I was seeing myself.

If a woman feels beautiful, she glows, and it shows in every aspect of her life.

Being their mother, we are the first woman that our boys see naked. We are the first woman that they look up to. And if we don’t see ourselves as beautiful individuals, then how can we expect them to see us any differently. If we let the media, the fashion industry with their standards and the magazines everywhere influence our young men on what a woman should look like, then we are missing half of the problem. We may do all the campaigns in the world about empowering women with our real beauty; if we forget our boys then the battle will be so much harder to win!

This past summer I decided that I was going to wear a bikini at the beach with my kids for the first time in years. I avoided going swimming because I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. That was then.

I went to a bathing suit store, tried many of them, finally found one that I felt was fit for my body type and we went to the beach. When I heard my boys telling me how beautiful I looked I almost cried. Because I realised right then, that everything starts within you.

The scars of my pregnancies did not matter anymore. Because I had achieved one thing. To teach my boys that even though I did not look like the magazine covers, I was a beautiful woman. And we went to the beach every single day that we could.

And I began to talk to them in a way to make them see that the messages the media was sending were wrong. I showed them over and over the pictures of me pregnant, and I even let them see the scars on my belly as they called it their little house!

Focusing on the little girls to raise them as future powerful and confident woman is vital and necessary. But teaching our boys on how real women look, so that in the future, when they put their eyes on their wives they will make them feel beautiful too, is also important.

We as women, mothers, sisters and friends have a responsibility, and it’s to make the world see us as beautiful as we are.

Valerie Boucher: As a mother of 3 boys that are  all  into sports, hockey and soccer  i am surrounded by men. I feel it is my responsibility to help change the world and it starts at home.


Email: [email protected]


Pretty Is Just My Face

Date: October 2, 2014

posted by Women Enough / Comments: No Comments / Tags: , , ,

Tui Anderson

I am 5’6” and naturally thin. When I do put on weight (the usual few pounds in winter), it goes to my breasts first and comes off there last. I have pretty green eyes and an above average IQ.

Now, before you start resenting me, I am 41, have grey hair (under the Loreal #4) and live in Nepal- I am no threat or appeal to anyone! So why have I told you all these things about me? Because it is not the stuff that matters about me. You could admire me for these traits. You could resent me for them. You could downright hate me- whatevs.

You see, none of the things I have described above, bear any reflection on me. They are not achievements, they are not things I have earned- they are simply the package I arrived in. Something over which I have absolutely no control and hence can take no real pride in. Not only am I not my appearance, it is not something I value.

Oh, don’t get me wrong- I appreciate it. I understand the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in which it has made my life easier. Yes, in this era, it is a huge advantage to be thin. However, in previous times, I would have been considered way too skinny (and would be a bluestocking spinster to boot), so this being an asset is merely an arbitrary function of the timing of my birth.

Compliments on my appearance leave me feeling uncomfortable- it is sweet, but holds very little meaning to me. These are attributes over which I have very little control. I would rather you notice that I am kind or funny or interesting. Or that I have emotional integrity, or that I love my family. These are things I can value. These are things I have worked for and, at times, struggled for. These are (some of) the markers of who I am as a person at this time.

The personal attributes that I value are the things that I have had to choose to be. Things I have had to work at, work for. I wasn’t always kind- I used to be a bit of a bitch. Often accidentally, fuelled by my insecurities, but mean none-the-less. I have worked to stop that. I try to be funny without being mean. Emotional integrity has been a journey of learning to not dump or blame or hit out reactively. Liking my family is not always easy with my sisters. They can push my buttons and I could choose to not talk to them, but I choose to see the love and care in their words, rather than any other interpretations. I choose to be their loving family. These are my choices, these are the things I have earned and worked for and achieved. These are the things I value about myself.

I have always said that pretty blond children grow into very dull adults. They peak in their mid-teens and never learn to be anything more than pretty. If you spent your whole childhood getting compliments for something that was just there, would you work to be anything more? Some of the most interestingly beautiful women in the world have described themselves as being awkward children. So they became more than their appearance, eventually becoming beautiful adults, but also being more than just their looks. Don’t we admire our kind and interesting movie stars just a tiny bit more than the merely pretty or even beautiful ones? Isn’t Meryl Streep far more attractive than Jessica Simpson, even though perhaps not as conventionally pretty on the surface?

So what would happen if we all spent the same amount of time and effort on our mind and heart as we do on our body? How would the world look if being kind and clever (rather than just smart) and generous were as magazine-worthy as being pretty and skinny? What if, rather than that new lipstick, you bought a book? For someone else? What if, rather than spending 30 minutes on your face, you spent 30 minutes on your heart?

What if we were not only kinder to ourselves in all these things, but were more vocal to our friends and out children about these attributes. What if we praised little girls for their kindness instead of their hair color? What if we reinforced little boys when they showed love and emotional courage rather than sporting prowess?

What if we set the same goals around growing our personal values as we do around losing weight? What if we stared into our souls the same way as we stare at the bathroom mirror? What if we bronzed and highlighted our hearts the same way we do our eyes and cheekbones? What if we styled our kindnesses and love to stay in place throughout the day, like our hair? What if we groomed our insides to look as good as our outsides?

You can choose where your values lie. We do get to choose our weight or height or eye color. These things are not achievements. But the height of your kindness is an achievement. The weight of your integrity is a true asset. The color of your heart is everything.

PS. As for the Loreal #4, I am trying to be self-aware, not dead!

 Tui Anderson is a traveling homebody with a busy brain and a calm soul. She accidentally became a writer after the Universe answered a frustrated question with a profound thought. In the words of one Buddhist teacher, she is a “fluffy spiritualist” who believes there are no wrong roads to happiness. You can find her on her public Facebook page Tui Anderson.


Image:{✿D-Munkhuulei✿}. Find at Flickr here. License details here.