At a time when there is an extreme amount of focus on Kate Middleton's gorgeous dress and impeccable style, here is what I most admire about the new princess:
Kate Middleton is a very vocal proponent of bullying prevention. The now-celebrated, confidant young princess was bullied as a child.
Universally, middle school is when bullying peaks, and children can be brutal to anyone who appears even slightly different.
Kate stood out for being very tall, skinny and shy, and she suffered as a thirteen-year-old student at the posh Downe House, where she encountered a British version of Mean Girls.
At lunchtime, Kate would sit at a table, and the other girls would pick up their trays and leave. They called her names and stole her books, and after two terms, Kate's parents removed her from Downe House and transferred her to Marlborough College in 1996.
There are thousands of girls who live in fear of being bullied at school. When they see magazine covers of confidant, poised Kate Middleton, we should remind them that she is a symbol of hope. It gets better. Even princesses can be bullied.
Too many children are responding to bullying by taking their own lives. Kate Middleton is a very public example that things do change. It can feel awful when you are in the middle of it. Unbearable. But with time, support and inner strength, the victims can make it to the other side.
In lieu of wedding gifts, Prince William and Kate have requested that well-wishers make charitable contributions, and one of the organizations they named as a favorite is Beat Bullying.
Parents, when you and your daughters are watching the coverage of the wedding on your DVR or Tivo this weekend and oohing and aahing about how stunning Kate looked, take a moment to ask your girls if they knew that Kate Middleton was badly bullied as a child.
Ask your daughters if Kate looks like she was able to retain a sense of self and push through to the light. Ask your daughters what a bullying victim looks like. Ask your daughters what a survivor looks like. Things are not always as they appear.
This royal wedding provides a unique opportunity for parents and their daughters to watch the media together and have a meaningful discussion. Ninety-nine percent of the discussions about the royal wedding will involve appearance. As the popular slogan goes, Be the change you want to see in the world.
Be the 1% who connects with your daughters to talk about what is behind the white dress and the tiara.
Studies show that by talking with your daughters about what they see in the media, you can help them make good decisions and stay strong. You can help them understand that appearance is not everything, nor does the media accurately portray appearance.
Related to this topic, there is a new PSA by the Girl Scouts of America called Watch What You Watch. The goal of the Girl Scouts PSA is to promote healthy media images for youth and to teach media literacy to impressionable kids.
Take the first step to Watch What You Watch with your girls. There is much to discuss while watching the wedding of William and Kate. The dress, the hair, the perfect figure . . . Kate is the very essence of the unattainable image that the media pushes on our girls.
Kate Middleton's flawless appearance is worth talking about with your daughters, because they will feel as if they should look like her in order to be accepted. But Kate's appearance is unrealistic for most of us.
What is realistic is that there is no such thing as perfect. Whereas Kate may resemble the very type of girl that torments your daughters in school, it will humanize Kate and comfort your girls to know that even Kate was not good enough when she was thirteen.