2012-05-28 11:02





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By Lisa Bloom

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I went to a dinner party at a friend’s home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.

Little Maya was all curly brown hair, dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown.[1] I wanted to squeal[2], “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!”[3]

But I didn’t. I squelched[4] myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse,[5] which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed they are.

What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker[6], isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem?[7] Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.[8]

Hold that thought for just a moment.

News reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. 15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly;[9] eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot[10] than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery,[11] leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23.[12] As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new norm,[13] American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

That’s why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.

“Maya,” I said, crouching[14] down at her level, looking into her eyes, “very nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.

“Hey, what are you reading?” I asked, a twinkle[15] in my eyes. I love books. I’m nuts for them.[16] I let that show.

Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic.[17] She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.

“I LOVE books,” I said. “Do you?”

Most kids do.

“YES,” she said. “And I can read them all by myself now!”

“Wow, amazing!” I said. And it is, for a five-year-old. You go on with your bad self, Maya.

“What’s your favorite book?” I asked.

“I’ll go get it! Can I read it to you?”

Purplicious was Maya’s pick and a new one to me, as Maya snuggled next to me on the sofa and proudly read aloud every word, about our heroine who loves pink but is tormented by a group of girls at school who only wear black.[18] Alas, it was about girls and what they wore, and how their wardrobe choices defined their identities.[19] But after Maya closed the final page, I steered the conversation to the deeper issues in the book: mean girls and peer pressure and not going along with the group.[20] I told her my favorite color in the world is green, because I love nature. Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It’s surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I’m stubborn[21].

I told her that I’d just written a book, and that I hoped she’d write one too one day. We were both sad when Maya had to go to bed, but I told her next time to choose another book and we’d read it and talk about it.

So, will my few minutes with Maya change our multibillion dollar beauty industry, reality shows that demean women, our celebrity-manic culture?[22] No. But I did change Maya’s perspective[23] for at least that evening.

Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed[24]. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand[25]? You may get some intriguing[26] answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.

Here’s to changing the world, one little girl at a time.


1. adorable: 可爱的,讨人喜欢的;nightgown: 女睡袍。

2. squeal: 发出长而尖锐的声音(叫声)。

3. ruffled: 有褶边装饰的;gown: 女礼服;gorgeous: 非常漂亮的。

4. squelch: 压制。

5. restrain: 抑制;impulse: 冲动。

6. icebreaker:(初次见面时)消除拘谨的话语(举动)。

7. compliment: 赞美;boost: 提升;self-esteem: 自尊。

8. 说实在的,因为她们太可爱了,我遇见她们的时候只想迸发出来(夸赞之词)。

9. mascara: 睫毛膏;eyeliner:(化妆的)眼线。

10. hot: 漂亮的,性感的。

11. Miami: 迈阿密(美国佛罗里达州东南部港市);cosmetic surgery: 整容手术。

12. 这会让她们从5岁开始节食,11岁开始抹粉底霜,17岁开始隆胸,23岁开始打肉毒杆菌。Botox:(商品名)肉毒杆菌素(可消除皱纹)。

13. imperative:(对人的行为具有很大影响的)观念;24/7:〈口〉每时每刻。

14. crouch: 屈膝。

15. twinkle: 闪光。

16. 我为书着迷。

17. give way to: 让步于……;genuine: 真心的。

18. snuggle: 依偎;heroine: 女主角;torment: 戏弄,折磨。

19. alas: 哎呀(表示悲伤、羞愧或恐惧);wardrobe:(某人拥有的)全部服装。

20. steer: 引导;peer pressure: 同龄人的压力。

21. stubborn: 固执的。

22. 然而,我和玛雅的几分钟(谈话)会改变数十亿美元的整容产业、贬低女性的真人秀和我们的名人狂热文化吗?

23. perspective: 视角。

24. slash: 消减。

25. magic wand: 魔杖。

26. intriguing: 非常有趣的。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:中国日报网英语点津 陈丹妮)

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