Sometimes an author has a book that really intrigues me. A new book by Woody Winfree, We Are More Than Beautiful – 46 Real Teen Girls Speak Out about Beauty, Happiness, Love and Life intrigues me as both a woman and the mother of twin daughters. Our twin girls are young, but I already see the drive to be pretty.
I asked Woody for her thoughts on the unique situation of building an awareness of beauty in twin girls? How can we help them build an individual sense of self, and self-esteem, in a world that compares them because they are twins?
Woody replied, "I will address what I know to be true about inclusion and individuality related to our sense of beauty:
We all need and want to feel a part of the whole – the whole of our family, community, society and world. Equally, we need and want to have a clear identity as an individual, to stand apart, be unique. These two needs being realized in fairly equal balance are a direct measure of our sense of self-worth. We may cringe a bit, but we understand when our daughters want to dress like their peers, don the current hair style, even imitate some feature or fashion of a celebrity. And we also know when this tips too far into a loss of self-identity and individuation confidence and esteem are compromised.
This is the very reason why the narrow, one-dimensional, distorted ideal of beauty in our culture is so dangerous. For too many girls it tips the scale of balance between social inclusion and self-preserving individuation.
The focus of my work has always guided me as a parent – and it is my hope that it does so for others as well. We need to expand the definition of beauty – of self-worth – beyond the narrow measures of the pop culture. As parents, we do this in innumerable ways: role-modeling, watching our own “talk” about weight, calorie counting, “thunder-thighs” etc.; seizing teaching moments to educate about cultural nonsense; strengthening their esteem through our unconditional love; building their confidence through sports, music and other activities.
These are the proven guidelines for parents raising esteemed girls, period. It seems to me these are the same for raising twin girls – only different, only two-fold, only twice as hard. Puns intended. What twins must doubly be impressed with is that what they have together is a precious and rare gift to enjoy and draw strength from (inclusion) and yet each is unique unto themselves (individuation)."