I recently read a post regarding parenting daughters. I don’t remember if it was something someone shared on Facebook or a blog post or where it came from specifically, but it’s been on my mind a good bit lately. When I first read the post I thought it made perfect sense, that yes, that is how I would parent Little A, and I still have to admit that that writer did make some good points. But after mulling it over a bit more I can’t honestly say that I agree with it 100%.
The post was all about how our society places far too much emphasis on our physical appearance, especially for women. We are expected to all be a size 0, D-cup, and dainty with perfect hair and perfect complexions, yada yada yada. So far, so good. But then the writer went on to say how her suggested response to this aspect of our culture was to never tell our daughters that they’re beautiful. We should never mention size or appearance at all, and the only discussions we should have with our daughters regarding their bodies should be about how the body functions or to rejoice in health and strength. Instead we should tell our daughters how intelligent they are and how wonderful their sense of humor is. Our compliments, when given at all, should revolve around their minds and personalities.
And I do agree, to some extent, with what the writer is saying. Our culture is too obsessed with appearances. And how many women look in the mirror daily and hate that what they see reflected there is a far cry from our professionally made-up/dressed/photographed/edited counterparts on the covers of magazines? I don’t want Little A to grow up thinking that she doesn’t measure up, comparing herself endlessly to an impossible standard. So, yes, that writer is absolutely correct in saying that we need to not raise girls to be overly focused on how they look.
I also think, however, that we still need to tell our daughters that they’re beautiful. Yes, they need to be told that they’re smart and strong and funny and capable, too. And our sons need to know that they’re also handsome, smart, strong, funny, etc; there are definitely two sides to this coin. But I remember when I was a very young girl asking if I was pretty, and the only response I ever received was, “Pretty is as pretty does.” I now understand that what I was actually being told was that looks aren’t the most important thing about a person but rather the heart. What my pre-school aged ears heard was, “No, you’re not pretty, but if you’re nice enough no one should notice.” It was many years (like twenty) before I actually finally began to like how I look.
I can’t speak for all females, but it does seem that girls are hard-wired to want to be found beautiful. If A is going to be asking that question, I want her to know from the very beginning that yes, she is beautiful. I don’t want her to feel that she has to search for someone somewhere who will tell her that. There are too many dangerous places just waiting for uncertain, unknowing, self-loathing girls to come along looking for validation. I want my daughter to grow up confidently knowing who she is, Whose she is.
So, please, tell the women in your life that they’re beautiful, especially your daughters.