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I was cleaning out my car and something about my youngest’s booster seat caught my eye that I had never noticed before, the word “Fabulous!” in the middle of a heart on the headrest.

I guess I had chosen the seat simply because it was pink, but had never given much thought to the fabric. Lo and behold as I looked closer I saw in other hearts all over the chair these words, too:

  • Princess
  • Sweetie
  • Sassy
  • Heart-breaker

It made me ponder the “go girl” culture that would put such words on a female toddler chair, and how early the “You are fabulous because you are a female” indoctrination begins and how widespread and almost invisible it has become in our culture.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think females can be fabulous, but being female alone does not automatically make one so.  Fabulous is a title earned, not a title granted.

And, I don’t especially think “sassy” and “heartbreaker” are good qualities to encourage in a girl. I am not sure why anyone would?

The self esteem movement aimed to make kids (especially girls) feel better about themselves with external validation and unearned accolades such as these. But I would argue they are a double edged sword, subtly implying one is a victim rather than a victor.

True self esteem comes from inside, not outside. It is forged by overcoming struggle, mastering skills, and by proving oneself to oneself and the world. Internal based self esteem is solid, it is not based upon what OTHERS think, but rather what one thinks of SELF.

Self esteem based on external validation, in comparison, is a bottomless pit needing fuel from never ending accolades. It’s unstable. Not real. Dangerous, really. It’s the stuff drama queens, materialists, Facebook “like” trolls, and selfie obsessed gals are made of. “Tell me again, and again, and again you like me,  I am fabulous, and worthy!” It lasts as long as the words hang in the air and then more outside validation is needed to keep propping up the externally-based self image.

Luckily my daughter can’t read the words on her car seat. And by the time she can, it will thankfully be obsolete.

Of course I will tell her she is fabulous, and that I love her, but I will also tell her when she is not being so fabulous, and will encourage her to develop a solid internal self confidence and self esteem so that she doesn’t need to be told over and over she has value. She’ll know that she does, and that part of that value is what she brings to the world, not just what she gets from it.

Kind of reminds me of that old tale about building one’s house upon the rock, and not upon the sand.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.