Monday, June 10, 2013

It's OK...Go Ahead and Tell Your Daughter She's Beautiful

So, I was doing my typical Friday perusal of all the wonderful 7 Quick Takes Friday that all the wonderful bloggers post, when I came across Mandi's wonderful blog that linked to this article from Huffington Post     The gist of the article is that when talking to little girls, you shouldn't mention that they are pretty/cute/beautiful/nicely-dressed or anything like should only talk about things like books or sports or their interests and how intelligent or strong they are.  

The authoress of the article cites all sorts of statistics about how girls as young  as three are worried about being fat, and 11-year olds wear make-up, and all that is very true and very disturbing.

But, that doesn't mean that the solution is to just avoid the topic of beauty all together and only tell girls they are smart.  You see, it's natural to want to be beautiful, it's natural to want to feel beautiful and it's natural to to be attracted to that which is beautiful.  I'm pretty sure that a girl's or woman's desire to feel beautiful goes way, way back.  After all, if you read Little House on the Prairie books, Laura talks about how she wants pretty dresses and how she admires her mother's beauty....and they certainly didn't have TV and magazines back then.  Way back since Biblical times, girls and women have done things to make them feel beautiful...wearing beautiful cloths, braiding their hair, pinching their cheeks to make them red, etc. 

A woman's desire to be beautiful or more importantly to *feel* beautiful is natural and normal.  And, ignoring that natural desire is not the answer.  After all, how would a married wife feel if her husband never told her she was beautiful...if he only told her she was smart or a good cook, or a rocking blogger.  I'd bet she'd be pretty unhappy in her marriage if she never heard that she was beautiful from her husband.  As women of course,  we want to hear about our talents as well..that we are smart, or a good cook, or good writer or a talented artist or whatever.  But, we also want those we are closest to and those we love the most to think we are beautiful...even if we have wrinkles and dark rings under our eyes and gray hair and 10 or 20 or 50 extra pounds on our bodies. 

And who is more important to a little girl than her parents?  Which is why she NEEDS to hear from her parents that she is beautiful...even if she is chubby or has braces or acne or is awkward looking.   And, this is why there is nothing wrong with telling little girls they are cute or beautiful, and why in fact we SHOULD tell them that. 

That's not to say that we shouldn't talk to little girls about books or sports or tell them they are smart or strong or artistic or creative or whatever.  We definitely should...we should talk about all sorts of things.  But, we shouldn't shy away from telling our daughters they are beautiful...because they need to hear it from someone they love and trust.  If we don't tell them they are beautiful, they will find someone else who will...and that someone may not be someone who has their best interests in mind. 

I pretty sure I read somewhere that teens who have a close relationship with their parents and feel unconditional love and acceptance from them delay sexual activity longer than those who don't.  After all, love and acceptance is ultimately what everyone is looking for, and if they don't get it from their family, they'll go out and find it from someone else. 

The key to lowering the incidence of eating disorders and low self-esteem is not to avoid the topic of beauty all together.  No, the key is to tell our daughters they are beautiful no matter what they look let them hear that they are beautiful even if they are overweight or wear braces or have a huge birthmark on their forehead. 

After all, even if the whole world thinks a girl is ugly, she should be able to count on her parents to think she is beautiful.  That's what parents are for, to love and accept us, no matter what and part of that is telling them that they are beautiful...because it's in a girl's nature to want to be beautiful.

So, no, of course we shouldn't focus solely on a girls' looks.  We should notice their brains and skills and talents as well...but it's okay to also notice their beauty.

Here are my beautiful girls...and I'm not afraid to tell them so. 

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  1. I think if girls don't hear that they are beautiful from at least their parents, they will want seek it from others, which could be more dangerous.

  2. I didn't take from the article that you should never talk to a girl about looks, more like, most people talk to little girls only about their looks so when you can, it's a good idea to try to talk about everything else. Which I totally agree with. I tell my daughter she's beautiful all the time, but I also tell her she is smart and kind and funny. 99% of the people who come into contact with her ONLY talk about her looks. Also, the author of the article was talking with a child she just met, not her own and I would really welcome other people in my daughter's life, especially strangers she just meets, that discuss topics other that clothes and looks with her.

    1. While that is true, I have found that as my girls get older, people do naturally talk to them about other things (school, books, what they like to do, interests, etc.). I think the focusing solely on looks is something that happens much more with younger children, just because it is generally harder for strangers to talk to younger children (they may be hard to understand, etc.). As kids get older, they just get more articulate and easier to converse with(especially for strangers).

  3. Great discussion! Do you read Simcha Fisher's blog at ncr? My computer won't let me paste the link! But she addresses beauty today too...interesting.

    1. Yes, I do read Simcha Fisher...her article today was very interesting!

  4. Amelia this is fantastic!!! I agree with you 100% and I'm definitely going to link to this post, if you don't mind. ;-)


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