Once upon a time there was a toddler who flitted from activity to activity like a bird from flower to flower.
Focus was something she rarely showed.
Until the day she saw The Little Mermaid movie. She was captivated, mesmerized, watching it with almost unblinking eyes. The music and story were magic to her and she fell in love with Ariel and all things mermaid! She wanted to watch it over and over until she had every line (and every song!) committed to memory.
It was the beginning of her love of mermaids, but she took all that she saw very literally. At 2 1/2 she assumed a mermaid had to have red hair because that is what she saw. And when she started seeing other movies and other princesses she believed that to be a princess (and to be beautiful) you must have peach skin and yellow hair.
What she was seeing was starting to define her idea of beauty... and that's when we stepped in!
We tripled the amount of books in the house with princesses, heroines and main characters of color. The Happily Ever After series on HBO became (and remains) a favorite for a fairy tale fix.
On a whim I painted a mermaid girl in her likeness. She was enchanted with the idea that SHE could be the mermaid, and that a mermaid could look like her!
I continued to create more and more art in her likeness, and we watched her beliefs shift and expand.
The power of exposure.