Updated: May 5, 2019
And how parents can help their kids' confidence.
As I have mentioned in my blog: "Dark Haired Children With Light Haired Siblings" I was the only child in my family born with these rich dark brown locks. Literally, no one in my mother’s family had hair this dark. So I would like to share with you the struggles that I have faced standing next to siblings who looked extraordinary, and how we can help our children with their confidence.
We all know how elevated lighter features are. It only becomes more evident to a child when they see their siblings being treated differently than they are by random strangers. It can really take a toll on a child’s self-esteem. And as a child with siblings who were redheads and cotton tops, I can relate. Many, including me; have either experienced this or witnessed this. It can be very hurtful, regardless if the other person meant it that way, or not. Here are some real comments from parents and children regarding the issue.
1. Comparing them to their lighter sibling.
This is why confidence should be encouraged at home. Even if they don’t have a sibling who looks extraordinary, it is still very important that you talk to your kids about these things if you are raising them in this extremely competitive Western world. They will find themselves standing next to extraordinary people. Others will be treated differently than them. They will have to contend with them.
2. Fawning over their lighter sibling, but not them.
People will treat their redhead sibling differently, all the time. They will say things such as “Red hair is the best color in the world!” “Oh, is that red hair?” “People pay thousands of dollars for hair like that” "She is so beautiful", while ignoring their brunette sibling.
Sadly, they will find themselves in a world that values rarity much higher, and the worst thing that we can do is sit back and pretend that this is not a problem. The worse thing we can do, as parents; is not talk to our children about this. Self-confidence isn't automatic. It is encouraged by the parents and the caregivers of their immediate environment. We, as the parents; are the child’s first teachers. And if you can teach them how to deal with bias (or colorism) at home, they will be better equipped to deal with it in the real world.
3. Telling their light eyed siblings how gorgeous their blue eyes are but ignoring them.
We, as parents of children with both light and dark features need to take note and really work on our brunette daughters (& sons) who may feel left out. Acknowledge their unique qualities. Help them to understand that there isn't only one type of beauty. There are many. After all, beauty is beauty, no matter what color it comes in. And that is the truth!
4. Not acknowledging that the redheads also have a brunette sibling who is just as stunning!
No matter where I went in the world, my dark hair seemed to always make me invisible to people that surrounded me and my siblings. I genuinely felt that way. I felt like I blended in a little too much with the outside crowd. I hated it!
I wanted to be different, like my siblings. These were the problems and issues that I had to face in my growing up years. But it is important not to stay that way. But these are some reasons outlined as to why I struggled so much, and why sometimes I desperately wish I was born a natural blonde or red-head beauty.
5. Elevating their lighter sibling over them.
The differences in the treatment of my siblings and I, was not exclusively referring to how my parents or family treated me or them. I am, however, referring to the fact that society will treat the lighter-haired child better than the sibling with darker features. These types of things can be clearly seen by the siblings and can trigger inferiority complexes. When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t help but to see that I did not possess these qualities that my siblings were praised for. It struck me like a lightning bolt. My self-esteem plummeted.
They will be overlooked, ignored, called common, average, or inferior. This world is full of superficial people who will base their value on their physical characteristics. It’s the sad truth. And it is a poison that society has grown accustomed to, due to the mainstream European Aryan beauty standards.
6. Constantly praising their lighter sibling while constantly ignoring them.
The problem is that the world perceives those who were born with these rare traits as having a higher quality than those with the average dark features. I noticed how my mother would always dye her hair a lighter color, and how the brunettes in my family would also lighten their hair. It really sent a message to me, that in order for a girl to be pretty, she must have light hair. This is the scenario when you may have to step up and be the example that you want to see in your child. Let them see you confident with your natural hair. Let them see you win with your natural beauty. That will speak more to them than anything you could ever tell them.
7. "..... by the way, your hair is nice, too," second hand compliment.
In my situation, if they turn around and realized that the redhead also had a sibling, or if they bothered to acknowledge the fact that I existed at all, they would say things such as “Oh, your hair is nice, too” as courtesy to parents with children who don’t have red hair. But as the brunette, you’ll know very well that it was your sibling being praised and not you. They were just trying to be polite by being inclusive. At this point, I felt that life had cheated me because I wasn’t given this type of beauty! No one knew disappointment like I did, and I mean no one!
This can be enough to shatter a child’s confidence, right away. I remember how people would constantly shower my redheaded sibling with gifts, things they would have never done for me. Complete strangers!
Nothing can be more infuriating than seeing one of your children being praised profusely saying "Oh he is soooo beautiful!” while they ignore your other child.
The “We are all the same” concept is a cute idea and a comforting thought, and I’m sure that whoever put that slogan out there had good intentions, but the world just doesn’t operate that way. So I encourage parents to discuss this reality with their children. Be honest with them now. Because sooner or later, they will have to face this reality. The world will judge them by their outward appearance. They will say that their siblings have the most beautiful hair in the world while giving them a second hand compliment, and sometimes failing to acknowledge them at all. They will also be told that they should feel bad about their hair, by extremely biased people,
Now let's address this whole value system, shall we?
The only way dark haired children will truly feel inferior to their light haired light eyed siblings is if their siblings are treated better by their parents and loved ones. People will come and go, but it is the parents who play a huge role into what that child becomes. If parents help their kids understand their value, and that the bias of other people says nothing about who they are, those shaming tactics people will throw at them will hold no water. Our children should realize that beauty comes in every color, and that is also the truth.
So honestly, talk to your kids about this. We must teach our children that they don’t have to surrender themselves to a low self-esteem just because of how society views them. And nobody needs to take that state of mind to what they are doing. Teaching them self-confidence at home will help them deal with bias out in the real world. We need to be aware of the ignorant things that may be said to us when we are out in the world pertaining to our hair or physical appearance, and how to deal with these problems as they come.
Comments can be found here: 7 THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO A MOM OF A REDHEAD
So how can we cope with this? How can we teach our children to value their hair and other characteristics that may be overlooked by society?
Tell them the truth. “Some people will never love you for you. This world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, no matter what you try, will simply not like you.”
But also remind them that the world is also filled with those who will love them fiercely. "The ones who love you: they are your people.”
There will always be something that is 'wrong' about you to the person who is not right for you. This includes the people who are said, friends. Because the "something wrong" that they find is nothing short of that "something right" to the heart that is searching for you.
You might be too big or too small in their eyes, but you're the perfect size for the heart that is meant to love you. You might be too outgoing or too shy in their eyes. But you have the perfect personality for the heart that is meant to love you. You might be too brown or too white in their eyes. But you're the perfect color for the heart that's meant to love you.
Never let how they feel about you change how you feel about yourself. Never let your value be determined by their preferences. You're valuable, not because of how someone sees you. You're valuable because that's how you were created to be. How someone treats you is not a reflection of what you deserve. It is merely a reflection of themselves. And I guarantee; you will always see yourself as less seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who could care less about you. You will always see yourself as less trying to change for a person that does not love you for you. You've got to stop giving people the power to determine how you feel about yourself.
Anybody can be attracted to physical characteristics that are extraordinary. That's a given. But the heart that is meant to love you will love you for you. They will be attracted to your spirit, unique personality, different qualities and what you have to offer. They will truly love you, even with your imperfections.
Change because you want to, not because someone else's opinions, judgments or preferences forced you.
Let go of everything that is keeping you from loving yourself.
So when someone tells me:
“You’re a dime a dozen” as if I’m a rock that can be found anywhere instead of a diamond that is precious and rare.
I tell them:
“Sorry, you are so short sighted.”
Not everyone will know value when they see it. It's their problem, not yours.
And some people will fail to see yours, not because you don’t have value; but because they are short sighted. Don’t waste your finite time and heart trying to convince the people who aren’t your people that you have value. They will miss it completely. They won’t buy what you are selling. Don’t try to because you will only waste your emotional good health. You are not for them and they are not for you. You are not their cup of tea and they are not yours.
Politely wave them along and move away as well. Seek to share your path with those who are meant to love you, and those who appreciate your gifts, and most of all, who you are.
Be yourself. There is only one of you, and you are irreplaceable!
I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s ok. I am who I am, and I am valued by the people who are meant to love me! And most of all, by my creator, and only he determines my value and worth!