"No, no, dear, it doesn't matter," we tell her, tell him, tell ourselves and our friends, but it does matter. Everyone notices, and evaluates what they see, with what they are, themselves -- the idea of what's beautiful, desirable that they've learned as they've grown up.
My son, JD, started worrying about how tall he was going to be when he was 11-years-old. With JD standing against a wall in my office, I started marked his height with a small horizontal line -- got a lot of horizontal lines on that wall.
Why was he worrying? Because his daddy was six feet tall; because kids in his school were competing and bragging about who was taller; because famous athletes, movie stars, and heroes in books were usually tall men. Yes, I wondered if he was already concerned about penis size, but didn't discuss it with him, and it's a subject for my Dr. Em self, not what's on my mind right now.
I'm an expert on what a girl wants to look like. I grew up with heightened awareness of breast size -- my oldest sister said it was a life and death thing for a girl -- if you didn't have big breasts, you were going to be lonely, a wallflower, and you'd probably have to marry the first boy who proposed.
All my life, (and probably yours), fashion magazines, ads for clothes and makeup, have taught us that skinny, slender, young, (girlish or boyish youngness) -- the look of a 13,14, or 15 year-old is wonderful, beautiful, and what you ought to pursue.
The fashion critic I truly respect, Robyn Givhans, headlined her recent article in Newsweek, YES SIZE CONTINUES TO MATTER. She reported that Vogue Magazine promised that they wouldn't hire anorexic 14-year-old-sylphs, but they broke their promise. Vogue and all the other major style people, including the Spring 2013 runway shows in Paris, have been hiring impossibly skinny, extremely young gazelles.
I think we need to blame ourselves.
Who hasn't thought."I looked better last year," and mourned being older? How can you find joy, pride, in the way you look NOW? By strongly not buying into what's stylish.
Don't blind your eyes, but when you see the gorgeous face in the ad that proves, that guarantees -- that the latest, new, retinol-something or other cream will make your skin look younger, think of a rose. What's more beautiful, a budding rose or one in full bloom?
Grow up kiddies. The obsession with looking young is making you old.