16 February 2006

True Colors

One of my favorite songs of all time, by Cyndi Lauper:

You with the sad eyes don't be discouraged
oh I realize it's hard to take courage
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all
and the darkness inside you
can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors shining through
I see your true colors and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colors
true colors are beautiful like a rainbow

Show me a smile then don't be unhappy,
can't remember when I last saw you laughing
if this world makes you crazy
and you've taken all you can bear
you call me up
because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors shining through
I see your true colors
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid
to let them show your true colors
true colors are beautiful like a rainbow

When I was a little girl I would have told anyone who asked that my favorite color was purple. But it was really my mother's favorite color, who I'd spend my whole life impressing. I didn't really know what MY favorite color was.

The use of Cyndi Lauper's song in the new Dove commercial, promoting their campaign for real beauty and introducing their self esteem fund for girls, moves me to tears. I wish I could shield my children from the intimidating forces of the world, preventing second thoughts to anyone else's opinion of them. I see the menacing world my daughter, especially, is entering (she is almost 7). According to Mary Pipher in Reviving Ophelia (fascinating book, btw), "Many (adolescent girls) lose spark, interest, and even IQ points as a 'girl-poisoning' society forces a choice between being shunned for staying true to oneself and struggling to stay within a narrow definition of female."

I was a bit of an outcast in my pre-teen years, so I can relate to this all too well (and that was 2 decades ago). But I didn't have much time to worry about it with all my artistic pursuits and my strong roots in religion. I do feel I owe a great deal of this "rise above" to my mother, not that she ever took the time to talk with me about "my world" (as I've explained, she was a very domineering woman, unwavering in her ideals), but she accomplished that alluring and amazing goal of motherhood. All her children are strong, disciplined, accomplished and stable.

As I approach a delicate time in my children's life and feel the need to arm them, I struggle to find the right level of expectations for them. I see the positive influence all my endeavors had on me, yet I could never pressure them at home as I was pressured. To me, that is just shifting the difficulties teens face from one world - where there are no emotional attachments quite yet - to another world, where they should feel that very security.

It took me several years of introspection, therapy, and searching to find my true colors in the person my mother wanted me to be, but I have found that good part and have gratitude for the experience as a whole. I've gone from a timid girl who was well rounded but unsure of herself to an assertive woman with a clear picture of who she is and what she has to offer. I certainly won't be paving the same course for my children, but the end goal is the same... to help them find their true colors and let them shine.


ShelahBooksIt said...

Love that, Lei. Ya know, when really, really pressed to answer what my favorite color is, I'll almost always say red, which is my mom's favorite color. I'm not really sure what my own favorite color is, though (even though I don't feel like my psyche has been damaged by not knowing, lol).

Rachelle said...

Lei, I love every post of yours. You really make me think. I look forward to your thread each day.

bon said...

Hey yeah! We really are on the same page with this... and thanks for the reminder about Reviving Ophelia... that book came out before I had kids and I was interested in reading it then. Now with three girls I think I really MUST read it.