Sunday, May 8, 2016

Having style isn't stupid

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter, Lisa (not her real name) is in eighth grade. Lisa is a pretty girl. She’s tall, lanky, has big green eyes and has beautiful long blonde hair.

We’re from California and the kids in her private school there were trendy but neat, clean, and looked put-together. Lisa (and her older sisters) wore uniforms and the school had rules about how the uniforms had to be ironed, tucked in, clean, and in good condition.

Uniforms helped keep the kids focused on their school work. They had zero tolerance for bullying. They weren’t allowed to chew gum!

When my husband and I saw your column about having cell-phone free zones at school, we remembered that Lisa wasn’t allowed to have a cell phone at her former school. Now she has it 24/7 and she’s a bully.

She uses her phone to take pictures of well-dressed kids and then mocks them on Facebook. We grounded her from her phone, but we can’t do that forever.

Lisa tells me, “I don’t think everyone should care so much about ‘stuff.’ They need to care about feelings and making everything a better place without war and important things like that.”

She says this is stupid. Lisa gets mad when I tell her something doesn’t match, is too tight or revealing. When I ask why she doesn’t care about her appearance, she replies with a stern look.

Mom of a Hot Mess

Dear Mom,

No one can “make” anyone do anything; however, you should take Lisa’s phone away from usage at school, at least until she understands she’s bullying. A phone is a privilege, not an entitlement.

Please tell Lisa that we appreciate who you are and your good values regarding the “things that matter most.”

We applaud your desires to make the world a better place. You’re intelligent enough to know it’s best to have a world without war and a place where people care the most about each others’ hearts more than “stuff.” These are mature and wonderful dreams for you to work on.

But, you may not bully others you don’t agree with because they don’t agree with you. Do you know bullying is against the law?

It’s human nature to use our aesthetic, artistic, and visual instincts to decide how we feel about what we see.

In fact, visual impressions used to be made by people within 20 seconds! Today, in our harsh and judgmental culture, it’s takes only eight seconds to be criticized on our socio-economic, religious, intellectual, popularity, values, talents, virtue, behavior, and vulnerability.

Lisa, the most important reason to choose to be well groomed, clean, put-together, and have a distinctive style, which is consistent with who you are internally, is to focus on yourself first (to define yourself) and then turn it to focus on others; taking action on the “things that matter the most.”

So, if you care enough about you and your life to create a visually pleasing environment and presentation of yourself, you will give off your true compassion and passion to help others do good-hearted things too. You’ll be a strong and authentic leader that others will admire … instead of being a distraction of a hot mess.

Don’t betray yourself by being consumed with how everyone else “should” understand what matters most according to you. Don’t betray yourself by being bitter and bullying those who don’t agree with you. Be responsible with your cell phone or your parents should take away your phone “forever.” It’s not an entitlement, it’s a privilege.

Being a bully is probably not how you envision yourself. If you know what matters most, live it and show it in your appearance and behavior. You’ll make life more beautiful for yourself and others around you.

BTW: Chewing gum is distracting and looks careless.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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