Healing Mothers and Daughters
Children are becoming obsessed with external beauty at a much younger age, Oprah says, and "the consequences are going to be shattering."
A recent study by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty revealed that nine out of every 10 girls wants to change at least one aspect of their appearance, and only 2 percent of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.
Margie, Jordyn's mother, says she and her daughter get into the worst fights about makeup. "She comes and tells me, 'I don't look beautiful. I want lipstick,'" Margie says. When Margie tells her toddler that she can't wear lipstick, Jordyn screams, cries and tells her mother "I hate you" and "I don't love you." Finding the perfect outfit and the right hairstyle is also a challenge. Jordyn wants to use hairspray and gets upset when she doesn't look "handsome."
A smile appears on Jordyn's face when she sits down with one of her favorite magazines—the Victoria's Secret catalog.
Margie doesn't understand why Jordyn looks at her reflection and hates what she sees. "She just looks in the mirror and says, 'I am not pretty,'" Margie says. "At those times, I actually feel like I have failed her ... I'm scared of where my daughter will end up in 10 years."
Although Margie assures her daughter that she's a beautiful little girl, Jordyn becomes inconsolable when she feels ugly. At times, Margie is at a loss for words. "I just want to know how to help her and make her feel special and loving," Margie says. "I don't know how to respond to 'I don't look beautiful. I hate me.' ... I'm at the end of my own self-esteem as a mother."
"I'm constantly telling her how beautiful she is. I just don't want her to feel the way I did," Margie says. "But I've missed the mark in making her feel the inner beauty."
Dr. Robin thinks Margie may have passed her own insecurities to Jordyn by not addressing her childhood pain earlier. "The real injury [is] you tried to heal your daughter when the hurt was in you," Dr. Robin says. "You thought, 'I'll just forget about me and I'll redo it. I'll do better in her.'"
To start Jordyn's healing process, Dr. Robin asks Margie to choose one thing to do differently. Margie says she'll start putting catalogs away where Jordyn can't see them and will consider getting her daughter subscriptions to age-appropriate magazines.
Self-hatred at such a young age is a spiritual and psychological issue that can have severe consequences, Dr. Robin tells Margie. "[Jordyn] can end up being exploited because she's going to crave attention," she says. Jordyn could also grow up to be a "mean, vicious girl" who attacks other people. "She's a wounded 3-year-old who is crying desperately," Dr. Robin says. "She's not just upset...she is desperate in her attempt to feel good enough."
At just 4 years old, Taylor is afraid of becoming fat. Most mornings, Taylor skips breakfast. At lunchtime, she leaves a peanut butter sandwich untouched and opts for a cup of peaches instead. Angela, Taylor's mother, asks, "Why are you eating fruits and vegetables?"
"Because it will make you skinny!" Taylor says.
Taylor tells her mom that she'd be sad if she was fat, and she doesn't think fat people are pretty. Angela thinks the influence of other children is to blame.
Group activities like cheerleading may also be to blame, Angela says. "She would hear the other little girls talk about weight—you'd be surprised." Angela explains that cheerleaders try to stay thin so that they can become "flyers," the girls on top of the pyramids.
Dr. Robin urges Angela to accept some responsibility for her daughter's obsessive behavior. "The part that was missing for me is that you were talking about school impacting her but not you," Dr. Robin says. "The only way we can help our children or anybody we love and care for is to be able to see how I contribute. Until I can take ownership as mother for a piece of the wounding, then I'm helpless."
"I want you to start thinking about what was hurting in [you] a long time ago," Dr. Robin says. "[Those wounds are] showing up in our little babies."
Nikki's self-hatred has grown violent in recent years. She says she's found pleasure in breaking mirrors and destroying pictures of herself. "[It] made me smile to see myself shatter," she says. Nikki also has cut herself and attempted suicide.
"I've prayed and prayed to God to let me see myself the way it seems other people see me," she says, "so for one second I can feel like I'm worth something [and] I'm not this hideous beast that I see every day."
"I've seen my mom cry in her room," Nikki says. "She's like, 'I just look hideous today.' When I tell her that I feel ugly, she says, 'Nikki, come on! You think you have problems? Look at me.'"
By comparing herself to her daughter and saying things like, "I'm the one who's really fat," Dr. Robin says Lynn and Nikki are "competing" to see who hates themselves the most.
"I never looked at it that way," Lynn says. "That's horrible."
Dr. Robin says daughters must stop being loyal to their mothers no matter what. "You're making your mother's words true," she tells Lynn. "And now they're living in your daughter. That is what must be re-scripted."
"Hopefully you'll see yourself, sitting here on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and realize that you are just as good, just as strong, just as beautiful and powerful as anybody else who's ever sat in this seat," Oprah tells Nikki. "That is my hope for you."